Manchester United are regretting Casemiro’s absence ahead of Sunday’s Premier League match against Newcastle. Since joining from Real Madrid in the summer, the Brazil international has been a big success. This is in stark contrast to Angel Di Maria, who struggled after moving from the Bernabeu to Old Trafford in 2014.
Manchester United were a wounded animal that year.
They had finished eighth in the Premier League standings the previous season, and David Moyes had been fired after only 10 months.
United, eager to demonstrate that they were still a superpower, decided to take the Galactico path.
Radamel Falcao arrived from Monaco, with the Colombia international returning to the Ligue 1 giants following a disastrous term in England.
But it was Argentina international Angel Di Maria who made the club’s record acquisition in a £57 million swoop.
It was a declaration of intent. At the time, the forward was one of the finest in the world, having led Real Madrid to Champions League triumph.
And Louis van Gaal thought the attacker would be ideal to work alongside Falcao, Wayne Rooney, and Robin van Persie in attack.
Di Maria’s career in Manchester began beautifully, with a fantastic chip against Leicester that is still spoken about after all these years.
It was a magnificent display of skill, one that seemed to prove his ability to handle life in the rugged and brutal Premier League.
Yet Di Maria would leave after a year, having fallen out of favor with Van Gaal, with Ashley Young frequently being selected ahead of him.
Yet, in Casemiro, United have signed a player from Real Madrid who has lived up to expectations.
While Raphael Varane has arguably done the same, it has taken him well over a year to find his feet. Injuries haven’t helped, and the Red Devils were dreadful last season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick.
Varane is good now, but he was unable to prevent the team from having a disastrous season a year ago.
Casemiro, on the other hand, has been on a different level since moving from the Bernabeu to Old Trafford.
When he plays, United appears to be in command. He has enhanced the players around him while also silencing his detractors with some thunderous performances.
And the fact that the Red Devils are grieving his absence ahead of Sunday’s match against Newcastle at Saint James’ Park says a lot.
Casemiro was the finest player on the field as Manchester United defeated Newcastle 2-0 in the Carabao Cup final at the end of February.
While Fred and Marcel Sabitzer are both talented players, neither has the same skill set as the former Real Madrid standout.
Some hoped that when United signed Casemiro, he would become the next Di Maria.
He’s instead proven everyone wrong. And if he can help the Red Devils win more trophies this season remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, ahead of the international break, Erik ten Hag supported his team to adapt in the absence of their No. 18.
“We’ve played a lot more games without Casemiro,” Ten Hag added. “We’ve done pretty well without Casemiro, especially against Arsenal and the two [matches] against Leeds.”
“I remember every game, and I think we did extremely well without Casemiro at the beginning of the season.”
“I want Casemiro to be available because he has a great impact, but we’ve won a lot of games without him and we have to do it with other players.”