It’s no coincidence that Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba are both yet to play well when fielded in the same Manchester United starting XI. While the main focus has been on the latter’s struggles upon being moved into a deeper midfield role alongside Nemanja Matic, the real problem for Jose Mourinho has been fitting all of United’s attacking talents into the same side without compromising the shape and functionality he implores from his teams.
But in some ways, the response to Pogba’s last two performances has been something of an overreaction. Fitting Sanchez into the team in a way that gets the best out of not only him but also United’s other key players was always going to be a working progress, and with the title race already over Mourinho can afford to experiment in the Premier League.
That being said, it’s clear Pogba lacks the discipline to sit alongside Matic and in truth, that’s a waste of what he offers the Red Devils going forward – namely, goals, creativity and penetrative dynamism from midfield. There’s been plenty of talk of United switching to a 4-3-3 to put Pogba in his preferred left central midfield slot, however it would likely sit easier with Mourinho to bring in another holding player to partner Matic and allow Pogba to roam just in front of them.
And in that regard, United’s first port of call should be Real Madrid’s Casemiro. Some argue the Brazilian enforcer is little more than a decent player doing a simple job in an incredibly good team, but the statistics speak for themselves and Casemiro’s ball-winning ability is fantastic – something which was particularly evident last night as Real Madrid recorded a thrilling 3-1 win over PSG in the Champions League.
Indeed, the 20-cap Brazilian recorded an incredible seven tackles and six interceptions last night, winning the ball back 13 times, but he was economical on the ball as well – completing two dribbles and 90% of his passes.
And bringing in a player like Casemiro might well arrest the biggest criticism of Mourinho; with such a sturdy presence in midfield, especially alongside another in Matic, he can afford United’s creative talents the freedom they’ve often lacked during the Portuguese’s first 18 months at Old Trafford.
Would Real Madrid allow their unsung hero to leave this summer? That remains to be seen but it’s clear Real Madrid need something of a revamp after a disappointing domestic season, and club president Florentino Perez has a knack of favouring style over substance in the transfer market. It certainly wouldn’t be a shock if Perez cashed in on Casemiro – who Transfermarkt value at £36million – to fund a move for another attacking player.
So, United fans, would you back a summer swoop for the 25-year-old? Let us know by voting below…