Among those likeliest to benefit most from Casemiro’s arrival is, in Vickery’s opinion, fellow Brazilian Fred. The pair were key components of the Selecao team which qualified for this year’s World Cup in Qatar and, within the usual caveat of squad rotation, United fans could be treated to the pair reprising their international roles on the domestic scene over the coming weeks and months.
“Fred really enjoys playing with him for Brazil,” says Vickery. “Fred has played very well for Brazil and can offer a lot more than he sometimes has at United. He’s maybe too unselfish for his own good. He can do a lot more but because United have been going through such transition, he’s had to do a lot of ‘carrying the piano’ and not a lot of playing it. With the lung power that he’s got, he could certainly be running forward more and I’d expect Casemiro to facilitate that. There could be some parallels with what Thomas Tuchel did with N’Golo Kante at Chelsea; rather than just holding in midfield, he had him running with the ball, committing defenders and then slipping passes through and creating space that way.
“I think United could do something similar with Fred. Casemiro has a good understanding with him already and you know which of the two will do what: Casemiro will hold, Fred can go up and back. They’ve played together a lot; we’ve just had 18 World Cup qualifiers and two Copa Americas in a three-year cycle, so they’re well used to each other.”
Whatever the composition and tactical approach of United’s midfield under Erik ten Hag, it seems certain that the Dutchman has secured a new core for the early years of his Old Trafford reign. With Casemiro at the foundation, the rebuild looks rock-solid.
This feature was first published in the Arsenal edition of United Review, our official matchday programme.