Ten Hag’s new signings fit a very specific profile
Raphael Varane described new Manchester United midfielder Casemiro as a “warrior" after the Brazilian was unveiled as the Reds' latest summer signing on Monday.
The Frenchman praised his new team-mate in a post-match interview with The Mirror, citing his work-rate and aggression as key assets that will enhance the Reds' squad.
But the Brazilian isn’t the only tenacious recruit that Erik ten Hag has added to his squad in the summer transfer window.
The Dutchman has said that “when you want to make a winning team, you need more leaders,” and the players he has brought in so far – Tyrell Malacia, Christian Eriksen, Lisandro Martinez and now Casemiro – fit a very specific profile.
He may only be 23 years of age but Malacia is not one to shy away from responsibility, demonstrating that on Monday night as he marshalled Mohamed Salah well and revelled in big tackles and important blocks.
During his time in his native Holland, the left-back gained the nickname ‘The Pitbull,’ a title bestowed upon him due to his tenacity both in and out of possession.
Another summer signing who has gained praise for his aggression, particularly against Liverpool, is Lisandro Martinez. When the Argentine arrived at Old Trafford in the summer, he already had a reputation in Europe for being a tough-tackling defender with an innate desire to dispossess his opponents.
That side of Martinez’s game was clear on Monday night at Old Trafford, as was his superb ability to pick out a pass and begin attacks from defence with his talented left foot. Ten Hag has used the Italian word 'grinta', or 'grit' to describe him and his aggression with and without the ball is quickly cementing him as a fan favourite.
In the case of Christian Eriksen, it is a little different. The Dane is slighter in build than his fellow summer arrivals, but his talent is unquestionable.
Eriksen is a magician on the ball, and watching him reminds you of a conductor orchestrating their musicians. But he isn’t afraid to do the dirty work either.
Against Jurgen Klopp’s side, Eriksen operated in a deeper role alongside Scott McTominay, making some important tackles and continually hassling and harrying the Liverpool midfield, stopping the Merseysiders from ever truly building up a head of steam.
While he does not possess the same physical attributes as some members of the Reds squad, Eriksen’s desire has seen him quickly become a regular under Ten Hag.
The arrival of Casemiro only adds to the steely determination that Ten Hag seems to want to instil in his side. The Brazilian is a born winner, with five Champions Leagues, three La Liga titles and a Copa America under his belt at the age of 30.
In his first interview with club media, Casemiro expressed his commitment to “giving everything for Manchester United.”
Ten Hag wants United to use the fighting spirit shown against Liverpool as a base to build momentum. Our new Brazilian midfielder is certainly the right character to help ensure that happens.
The opinions in this story are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Manchester United Football Club.