It is fair to say that the odd eyebrow was raised when Casemiro made it clear that he wanted out of Real Madrid in the summer of 2022. Ambition is always to be applauded, but was the Brazilian midfielder ever likely to find greener grass outside of Santiago Bernabeu?
Such questions were always going to be asked, particularly once it emerged that Old Trafford was the landing spot to have caught his eye. Manchester United may stand alongside Real as a superpower of world football, but it has been some time since they can claim to have matched the Blancos’ trophy output.
Did Casemiro really believe that he could achieve as much in England as he could in Spain? Was he worried about being overtaken in Madrid, with game time becoming limited as successors to a fabled midfield unit broke through?
Maybe that was the case, especially with international ambition taken into account. Brazil sits as +400 favorites in the outright Qatar World Cup odds. Nobody in contention to earn a place in Tite’s plans for a global gathering in the Middle East wants to leave on the outside looking in.
In trading Madrid for Manchester, Casemiro was ensuring that he would see enough competitive action to catch the eye of those keeping a watching brief in South America. He was also taking on a completely new challenge a long way outside of his comfort zone.
United, though, has invested heavily in his pedigree and cannot afford for an adjustment period to take too long. The Red Devils have found themselves on a slippery slope ever since iconic former coach Sir Alex Ferguson headed into retirement. It’s clear that they need big-money additions to deliver an immediate return.
Casemiro will be fully aware of what is expected from him, but it may be that he needs to offer a little more than merely midfield security in order to justify the £70 million that United splashed out in order to secure his signature.
A reputation may have been established as one of the finest exponents of a valuable holding role, but water carriers are never going to quench the thirst of a success-starved fan base that extends to many millions.
A new start for Casemiro ❤️ pic.twitter.com/NFdNT3l0bz— GOAL (@goal) August 27, 2022
Casemiro appears to be aware of that but has said of his role: “I defend, first of all, and provide balance to the team… Of course, a goal here or there is nice but doing my job and defending well comes first.” He is right to suggest that the basics must be done right, with that the case for any professional in any walk of life, but more than one string is required to his bow. That is because United still has plenty of boxes left to tick as a collective.
They may not have acquired Casemiro to aid their goal-getting endeavors, with seven the best he has managed across any single campaign, but they really need him to become a Jack of trades as too many other workmen in a seemingly endless rebuilding project has been quick to down tools.