Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ratcliffe questions big Man Utd signing during Murtough, Arnold talks as major recruitment change looms

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has told existing Manchester United directors that he deemed the signing of Casemiro from Real Madrid in 2022 as questionable, according to reports.

Ratcliffe is on course to acquire a 25% stake in Manchester United, which will see him take control of footballing operations. It has led to uncertainty about the futures of current directors like John Murtough and Richard Arnold, since the Ineos figurehead may prefer to appoint someone else to the club’s transfer team.

Now, The Guardian has revealed that Ratcliffe questioned the signing of Casemiro when meeting with Man Utd back in March, when Murtough and Arnold were in attendance.

Man Utd bought Casemiro from Real Madrid in August 2022 for a fee in the region of £60m. He was 30 years old at the time, but still regarded as an elite option after his trophy-laden spell in Spain.

Erik ten Hag had wanted Man Utd to reunite him with Frenkie de Jong after taking the job, but the Barcelona man did not want to make the move despite their previous connection at Ajax.

The official line is that Casemiro was not necessarily an alternative, rather someone Man Utd would have been interested in anyway. However, his addition into the Man Utd fold raised some eyebrows, despite his pedigree.

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It appears Ratcliffe was among those sceptical that giving an expensive four-year contract to the 30-year-old Casemiro represented good business, especially given the transfer fee entailed and potential lack of resale value.

It is unclear if Ratcliffe would want to sell Casemiro once inheriting his portion of the Man Utd ownership, or if he just views him as an example of recruitment that could have been more carefully planned.

Casemiro was what Man Utd needed – but at what cost?

In his defence, Casemiro has had a mainly positive impact since joining Man Utd, representing an upgrade on the likes of Scott McTominay – who has never been as defensive of a midfielder – and Fred, who was sold to Fenerbahce this summer.

Despite a couple of red cards, Casemiro played 51 times in his debut season in English football, acting as the enforcer that Man Utd had been missing in midfield and helping them win the Carabao Cup and also return to the Champions League.

There is a lot of discourse in football about short- and long-term signings, and if Casemiro falls into one of those categories, most would say the former. However, perhaps he needs to be reappraised as a medium-term signing, who is past his prime but not over the hill and can help Man Utd bridge the gap until they find a younger prospect for the position.

By the time his contract expires in 2026 – and Man Utd have the option to extend it further into 2027 – Casemiro will be 34 years old. Of their current outfield players, only Jonny Evans (by four years) and Christian Eriksen (by nine days) are older.

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