Gary Neville fears Man Utd signing was ‘not smart’; worries Ten Hag is sleepwalking into second transfer trap

Man Utd stars Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez

Gary Neville has surprisingly claimed Casemiro was “not a smart or shrewd signing” for Man Utd, and voiced his concerns Erik ten Hag is poised to walk into a similar transfer trap.

Man Utd’s primary midfield target last summer was Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong. United and Barca struck an agreement, though the Dutchman was hell-bent on remaining in Catalonia.

A move for Adrien Rabiot of Juventus came and went once United pulled the plug on De Jong. Rabiot’s mother – who doubles up as his agent – priced her son out of a move when it came to negotiating his salary.

That led to Ten Hag and co. moving for Real Madrid veteran Casemiro instead. Despite being the wrong side of 30, United forked out around £60m in a deal that could rise to £70m in add-ons.

Put simply, Casemiro has been nothing short of sensational since moving to Old Trafford.

He quickly struck up a fine midfield pairing with Christian Eriksen before the Dane’s untimely ankle injury. Casemiro has proven himself a master at shielding the defence, while his five goals and six assists across all competitions prove he can be just as decisive at the other end of the pitch too.

As such, it comes as something of a surprise to see United legend Gary Neville voice his doubts over what thus far, has proven a fantastic piece of business.

Does Gary Neville have a point?

Speaking on his Overlap show, Neville’s concerns centred around Casemiro being an incredibly costly short-term option.

The pundit is in no doubt Casemiro has made an incredible impact thus far, even describing him as “devastating”.

However, he worries the total investment that includes a high salary is a big price to pay for what may only be a short-term and ultimately unsustainable boost.

“I feel like Ten Hag is not going to sign [marquee names],” said Neville when discussing United’s potential summer transfer plans.

“If new owners come in they’re going to want to make a statement, they’ll want to blow the transfer market open. I don’t think that will suit him.

“I think he’ll want those younger, hungrier ones that have still got that growth rather than the finished article.

“Casemiro obviously defeats that a little bit, but you look at Antony and Lisandro Martinez, they’re younger and hungrier.

“I think that’s the type of player he’ll want to add to this squad rather than saying, ‘Oh, Kylian Mbappe’s available or so-and-so is available’.

“But Casemiro, there’s no doubt – we all said it by the way – £60m? £70m? And £20m-a-year [contract] for five years is a £170m investment. That is a massive investment.

“It’s not a smart or shrewd signing when you look at it from a [big picture] point of view. None of us thought that.

“But the impact he’s having in the short term and what Manchester United need now, he’s devastating for the club in unbelievable ways.”

READ MORE: Man Utd must sell to buy? What Ten Hag’s Carabao Cup winners might fetch and where they could go…

Harry Kane doubts raised

Neville then turned his attention to the idea of Man Utd bringing Harry Kane to Old Trafford.

The Red Devils are known to be hunting a new centre-forward at season’s end and per the Telegraph, their two primary targets are Kane and Victor Osimhen. The Manchester Evening News touted Benfica’s Goncalo Ramos and Mohammed Kudus of Ajax as outsider alternatives.

Neville has no doubts whatsoever Kane would be an instant hit in Manchester just like Casemiro. However, he worries that a blockbuster Kane coup “wouldn’t be something that worked” with regards to benefitting the club long-term.

Neville continued: “You know something, I’ve worked with [Kane] and you watch him. He will score 30 goals, he will get 10-15 assists, and that is an absolute fact.

“He’s a professional, the dressing room will love him, he’ll fit in straight away and he’s a guarantee for Manchester United. But if he’s going to cost £150million and he’s 30, then it’s a short-lived [signing].

“So I think Harry Kane is the type of player who could take you to the title, he is, because he would just connect the whole of the midfield, the top of the pitch, he’ll score goals, the fans will love him, the players will love him and I don’t see how you can go wrong with him.

“But the fact of the matter is, for the long term, it wouldn’t be something that worked.

“He’s got another five years left in his career by the way, so I don’t think there’s a problem with that, it’s just that he is, obviously, in the latter part of his career.”

United have fallen foul of signing ageing superstars in the post-Ferguson era. The likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Alexis Sanchez are notable examples of once-great players who became a drag at Old Trafford.

While Neville clearly has the best interests of his former club at heart, Casemiro and Harry Kane are simply a class apart and a step above the aforementioned pair.

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