Jamie Carragher believes Manchester United made a significant misstep by signing Casemiro last summer and says they will need to fork out another £100million to upgrade him in the coming years.
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The 31-year-old had a largely excellent first season in English football after swapping Real Madrid for Old Trafford in a £70m deal last summer, helping the side lift the Carabao Cup.
However, he did occasionally show signs of his age and struggled massively in Monday night’s 1-0 win over Wolves, with the visitors’ running from deep causing him all manner of problems – Gary Neville even went as far as to say he was ‘torn to shreds’.
United are now looking for a new central midfielder to compliment him and share the defensive workload, with Fiorentina’s Sofyan Amrabat the player most likely to arrive.
But Carragher feels United have painted themselves into a corner with the signing of Casemiro, who lacks the exuberance and mobility of younger midfielders at rival clubs, and believes they will soon need to replace him to stay competitive.
‘I never believed Casemiro would be value for money. Not because there is any doubt that he has been a world-class player but because he is at a stage of his career when he cannot fully repay United’s massive fee,’ wrote the former Liverpool defender in his column for The Telegraph.
‘He was a panic buy when he joined a year ago, bought in the immediate aftermath of the failed pursuit of Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona; an ageing, stellar name signed for big money and on a massive salary to appease increasingly disgruntled fans, despite the fact he will need replacing with a similarly massive outlay two years on.
‘He is precisely the kind of signing United have been moving away from this summer as they look to the future.’
On Casemiro’s struggles against Wolves, Carragher said: ‘He was too often isolated and lacked the dynamism and energy required for such a responsible position.
‘Erik ten Hag is already in a situation in which he needs to remodel his midfield because Casemiro does not have the legs to work alone. Putting someone alongside him will help, but it cannot turn back the clock and recreate the 25-year-old who won the lot at the Bernabeu.’
He continued: ‘He moved to Old Trafford with his peak years behind him so his overall contribution can only be effective for a short period. Is that a clever use of resources?
‘United are now being strongly linked with players such as Sofyan Amrabat to help Casemiro protect their back line, but they did not challenge Arsenal and Chelsea for Moises Caicedo, Romeo Lavia, Enzo Fernandez or Declan Rice because they felt Casemiro was the same profile of midfielder when they went big for him.
‘That demonstrates how unwise they were to pay so much. Real Madrid simply do not allow players of that ilk leave unless they feel they have had the best from them. Given Casemiro has four years left on a reported £300,000-a-week Old Trafford contract, United still have a massive financial commitment on their hands. It has already cost them the chance to buy a younger alternative.’
He added: ‘They will not be title contenders until they find a Rodri, Caicedo or Rice of their own.
‘After paying £70 million for someone who could do the job five years ago but will continue to struggle to match his previous high standards, the current market suggests they will need another £100 million for the midfielder to do so for the next five years.’
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