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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Man United: Imagine Casemiro and De Jong

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It may come as either a source of delight or frustration to Manchester United supporters, although it looks as if the Frenkie de Jong saga could well have a new chapter, with the Barcelona sensation having yet again been linked with a move to Old Trafford.

The 25-year-old was mooted for a reunion with his former boss Erik ten Hag throughout the entirety of the summer transfer window, with reports back in May having suggested that the Netherlands international would be a top target for the Red Devils to help strengthen the midfield.

Despite reportedly agreeing a fee of around €85m (£75m) with the Catalan outfit, the United hierarchy were ultimately unable to get a deal over the line, with the issues over the player’s deferred wages and his apparent reluctance to leave Camp Nou having seemingly been major obstacles in preventing the switch.

As it proved, the debacle at Brentford seemingly sparked a change in tact for Ten Hag and co as the club swiftly wrapped up the signing of a more defensive-minded asset in Casemiro, with the Brazilian having joined on a £70m deal from Spain’s other leading side, Real Madrid.

The latest suggestion is, however, that the Premier League giants could now partner the Brazilian with De Jong ahead of next season, with The Athletic’s Andy Mitten writing last month that the club still hold an interest in the 5 foot 11 maestro.

Manchester Evening News journalist Samuel Luckhurst more recently revealed that Ten Hag is ‘open‘ to making another move for his former Ajax asset this summer, with the centre of midfield still seemingly an area of concern for the club, with the likes of Christian Eriksen, Fred, Bruno Fernandes and Casemiro all taking on a heavy workload due to the lack of quality depth.

In the latter man, United already possess a “phenomenal” asset – as described by teammate Harry Maguire – who has quickly become something of a cult hero at the Theatre of Dreams, with the 30-year-old notably the “cement” in the side at the base of the midfield, as per his manager.

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The experienced colossus has particularly impressed due to his ball-winning prowess as he ranks fourth in the division for tackles made (53), although he has also left club legend Paul Scholes “surprised” due to his “range of passing”, with the five-time Champions League winner notably creating five big chances in the top-flight this term.

To be able to partner the composed and cultured powerhouse with the “majestic” figure of De Jong – as lauded by journalist Muhammad Butt – could well prove a match made in heaven, with the Barca ace also offering that undoubted brilliance on the ball.

The “generational genius” – according to Butt – ranks in the top 7% in Europe among those in his position for pass completion, while also helping to initiate attacks from his midfield berth as he ranks in the top 14% for progressive passes – with Casemiro also ranking highly in that latter metric (top 17%).

While De Jong may not be the man to win back possession, as he ranks in the bottom 18% for tackles made, that job can be handed to the Brazilian – who ranks in the top 5% in that regard – allowing the former Willem II man the freedom to take on a more creative role as a deep-lying playmaker.

Arguably one of the Dutchman’s most eye-catching traits is his knack for producing penetrating, driving runs into the final third, showcased by the fact that he ranks in the top 13% for dribbles completed, with the Red Devils currently lacking such an asset as the aforementioned Eriksen ranks in just the bottom 21% for that same metric.

As such, Casemiro could well provide that solid, tough-tackling foundation in front of the back four, with De Jong offering a potentially offering a more inventive and probing attacking quality alongside him.

Although there will be few getting their hopes up just yet of seeing that partnership in United’s midfield next season, it could well prove a duo that is the envy of their top-flight rivals.

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