Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag commented on Casemiro’s strong recent form after the Red Devils signed the Brazilian over Barcelona sensation Frenkie de Jong.
Erik ten Hag has praised Casemiro as “excellent,” in what appears to be a sly dig at Manchester United’s failed bid for Frenkie de Jong.
The Red Devils spent much of the summer pursuing the Dutch midfielder, with Ten Hag eager to reconnect with his former Ajax goalkeeper. United agreed on a deal with Barcelona for De Jong, but the midfielder was not convinced of a move to Old Trafford and opted to stay at Camp Nou to compete in the Champions League.
Following a failed transfer, United turned their attention to other targets, eventually landing a deal for Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro, who arrived at Old Trafford for a sum of up to £70 million plus bonuses.
The 30-year-old had a sluggish start with his new club, starting none of his first four Premier League games. Since then, though, the midfielder has been instrumental in Ten Hag’s men closing in on a position in the top four.
Casemiro equalized against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge before his experience and poise came in handy as the Red Devils held on for a 1-0 win over West Ham United at the weekend.
In the aftermath of the triumph, Ten Hag lavished praise on Casemiro, implying that his quality could never be questioned, with much more expected of him in the future.
“For me, he’s [Casemiro] great,” the Dutchman added. You can see why he’s won five Champions League titles, why he’s been at the top of world football for so long, and you can see it in every match, every training, and I think he’ll only become better and give more to the squad.”
Casemiro’s present fortunes, strangely, are diametrically opposed to those of former United target De Jong.
So far this season, the 25-year-old has slid down the Barcelona pecking order, having started just nine of a possible 17 matches in all competitions. His solitary goal came in a 4-0 thrashing of Cadiz in September.
While the Dutchman’s playing time has been limited this season, he has also seen the main reasons for turning down a transfer to United crumble. Barcelona was ousted from the Champions League at the group stage for the second consecutive season, having won only one of their first five matches.
The Spanish giants have now been relegated to the Europa League, where they will face a playoff against one of the competition’s second-placed teams. United might be one of them, with the Red Devils behind Real Sociedad entering into this week’s last matchday.
To finish first in their group, Ten Hag’s side must win by two goals or more in Spain on Thursday evening. If they fail to do so, De Jong may return to Old Trafford after the World Cup, but he will be wearing the blue and red of Barcelona – assuming he starts.