Man United transfer, £34m loss - final Casemiro verdict delivered after Arsenal nightmare

Erik ten Hag (L) talks to Manchester United's Casemiro
Casemiro has struggled badly at Manchester United this season -Credit:Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Casemiro has endured a nightmare season for Manchester United with the Brazilian looking off the pace from the opening game of a torrid campaign.

The 32-year-old made a positive impact at Old Trafford in 2022/23 after arriving from Real Madrid on a four-year deal. Casemiro's performances in midfield played a key role in United's Carabao Cup win and top-four finish.

But the 2023/24 campaign has been a different story with age and injuries appearing to have caught up with the defensive midfielder. It should be noted that United's injury crisis has forced Erik ten Hag to play the former Madrid star at centre-back against Arsenal and in Monday's 4-0 thrashing against Crystal Palace.

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Reports have recently claimed that Saudi Pro League club Al Nassr have accelerated their interest in the Brazilian. It is said that they are willing to make a £34million offer which would represent a £36m loss on the £70m United paid Madrid for him in August 2022.

With all that said, MEN Sport asks what the future holds for United's midfielder-turned-centre-back? Here's what some of our team have to say.

George Smith

After the success of his first season at Old Trafford, it is hard to believe that talk of Casemiro needing to be offloaded is so rife. He was absolutely excellent last season, playing a key role in what was a successful campaign for the club.

However, he has regressed at an alarming rate this season, making it almost impossible to defend the club's decision to invest such a lavish amount of money in a player who was already north of his 30th birthday. His standards have fallen off a cliff and he is not the player he was 12 months ago. It is actually sad to see how he has declined so quickly.

Whether he plays at centre-back or in defensive-midfield, there cannot be a long-term future for him at Old Trafford. United need to add a freshness to their ranks and that means sourcing a successor. The trouble for United is they will have to stomach a huge financial loss on a potential departure. They will be lucky to recoup half of what they paid for him in August 2022.

Isaac Seelochan

The problem for Casemiro is that he is unlikely to get any better at his age. This is not a young player who is having growing pains at a big club, like Rasmus Hojlund for example.

With the ambitions Ineos have for United, they cannot afford to have ageing players who are slow and past their best. If the Brazilian was having one or two bad games then there may be an argument to keep him as a squad player for another season.

But an offer from Saudi Arabia would surely be something United consider. Even though they will lose a significant amount of money on the original deal, receiving any decent fee would be a positive after the season he has had.

Jack Flintham

It is difficult not to feel sorry for Casemiro in some respects. Yes, he is the top earner at Old Trafford and with that comes the expectation that you will perform to a certain standard.

But while he could play in defence during his younger years, he clearly does not have the qualities to do that now, particularly in a side which leaves its back four so exposed. What puzzles me is why Casemiro was again forced into the centre-back role.

I appreciate that there is a severe lack of centre-backs but Scott McTominay has limited experience in that position and surely could not be much worse. In that system, you could have moved Casemiro into his preferred defensive midfield role alongside Sofyan Amrabat and pushed Kobbie Mainoo more advanced.

There would be a risk that McTominay was also a fish out of water but ultimately it was worth the gamble. When everyone is fit, Casemiro would struggle to be in the lineup on his current form but I don't think he has been helped by how easily his weaknesses are exposed in this setup.

Kieran Horn

Casemiro's Manchester United career is a significant crossroads with it clear he has regressed significantly. During his debut season at Old Trafford, he was superb however in recent months he has been at fault for a number of goals against United with a disastrous week coming towards the end of the 2023/24 campaign.

After being embarrassed by Crystal Palace on Monday evening, the Brazil international was caught lazily jogging back into position which allowed Kai Havertz to stay onside and cross for Leandro Trossard to tap home. While injuries have required him to be played out of position, it is now clearly doing more harm than good.

Having experienced players in your squad is important but also knowing when to take them out of the firing line is required. Ten Hag has Willy Kambwala fit and available and he absolutely should go back into the defence if Lisandro Martinez is still deemed not ready to feature against Newcastle United.

It is also worth assessing Casemiro's future at Old Trafford as a player with his years of action at the top level a vital trait United can still use. If that means in a coaching role then so be it especially as he is on a lucrative contract which runs until 2026.

Josh Holland

United find themselves in an unwanted situation when it comes to a number of players this summer but Casemiro's one is a tricky one. The decision to give him a four-year deal with the option for another year at the start of last season hasn't proved a good piece of business already.

They're not only going to struggle to sell him in the window but they face having an ageing player in their squad who has proved his struggles in the last two games. As Roy Keane said after the game, no matter what experience you have, you can't teach pace.

He's clearly not a centre-half and he has showed glimpses, at times, showing his quality in his natural position. However, with such a big wage and at 32, United simply have to look at selling him.

Saudi Arabia are always going to be interested in a player of his calibre and the league has history of giving players big wages. If Sir Jim Ratcliffe needed any more evidence that he should aim to cut ties with the midfielder, the last week should do it.

Pundits have also shared their thoughts on Casemiro, here's what some of them have said:

Peter Schmeichel

"Casemiro can't play centre-back, he was exposed on Monday night so why don't you put a proper centre-half like Willy Kambwala in there rather than on the bench?

"Who's going to stop Odegaard? Who's going to stop Arsenal playing? Casemiro's performance at centre-half on Monday night really makes me nervous."

Gary Neville

"Casemiro has taken some criticism in the last couple of weeks, and he's going to get a little bit more. Brilliant from Arsenal. Those Arsenal fans in that far corner will have recognised it's been a difficult first 20 minutes. But, he goes to split wide to get on the ball, Casemiro. As soon as Onana goes that way, Casemiro has to get up. Look at him jog. Then as you see the ball getting played that down that far side, he has to get out quicker than that to play him offside. Once he doesn't, he's in trouble."


"Manchester United are in a terrible moment, with so many injuries. and Casemiro is a midfield player, not a striker or defender, so people criticise him playing out of position, but in my opinion, he is not to blame at all, because Manchester United are struggling massively on their own."

Jamie Carragher

"Casemiro should know tonight [after the 4-0 defeat to Crystal Palace] as an experienced player that he should only have another three games left at the top level – the next two [Premier] league games and the [FA] cup final – then he should be thinking, 'I need to go to the MLS or Saudi'. I’m deadly serious – his agent, the team of people around him, they need to tell him: 'This has to stop'."