Manchester United Can Thank Frenkie De Jong For Casemiro’s Game-Changing Performance.

Casemiro scored a late equalizer for Manchester United against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, capping off another outstanding performance from the Brazilian.

There is currently a parallel Premier League in which Manchester United are playing with Frenkie de Jong as their holding midfielder rather than Casemiro, a scenario that Erik ten Hag desired when he took over as manager in the summer.

De Jong was identified as a priority target by the Dutchman due to his ability to connect the game from defense to midfield and attack, carrying the ball forward and putting United on the front foot.

But aside from his unwillingness to actually swap Barcelona for Manchester, there were also concerns about his ability to play as a defensive midfielder in the Premier League.

Ten Hag might have envisaged a United side as dominant as his Ajax team were in the Eredivisie, but that was never likely to be the case. At the risk of pointing out the obvious, the Premier League is tougher and every game can be a challenge, as the Dutchman has already discovered.

It would have been fascinating to see how a midfield trio of De Jong, Christian Eriksen, and Bruno Fernandes had got on, but it feels too possession-centric to really be a success in this division. United might just have struck lucky with De Jong’s refusal to ditch his Nou Camp dream.

United officials insist Casemiro was under consideration all summer and the midfielder has said the same, but there’s no doubt this deal accelerated once United had been pulled from pillar to post by Brighton and Brentford.

The 30-year-old took his time to settle in the Premier League and initially looked a little too slow, a little too cumbersome, to thrive. But class always rises to the top and after six successive starts for the club, he looks like an inspired signing.

Committing £70million to a defensive midfielder whose best days were considered to possibly be behind him felt like a risk, especially on a five-year deal, but this team has been crying out for a defensive midfielder and they now have a world-class operator in that department.

But the Brazilian is far more than just an elite destroyer. He was the hero at Stamford Bridge for his late equalizer, but he helped to control Chelsea as they got on to the front foot in the second half and dictated the tempo in the first 45 minutes.

It’s been a surprising feature of Casemiro’s passing that he so often looks forward to. His passes have been crisp and progressive and in the last two games United’s midfield has become more attack-minded as a result of the trust Ten Hag and his teammates now have in him.

Fred excelled in a more advanced role against Tottenham and in United’s dominant first half at Chelsea, it was Christian Eriksen and Bruno Fernandes enjoying the freedom they were afforded.

Casemiro frequently took possession in deep areas and fired crisp passes into the feet of Eriksen and Fernandes on the half-turn. That trio dominated the game, and Casemiro felt crucial to it. He deserved that euphoric moment in front of the away end in stoppage time.

We’ll never know how this team would have looked with De Jong on the field. Given Barcelona’s Champions League struggles, Ten Hag and his former Ajax midfielder could reunite in the Europa League in 2023, but three months after being desperate for De Jong, United would not swap Casemiro now.

Manchester United Can Thank Frenkie De Jong For Casemiro's Game-Changing Performance...

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  1. Manchester United Can Thank Frenkie De Jong For Casemiro’s Game-Changing Performance.

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