Rio Ferdinand brands Man Utd summer signing undroppable and highlights major qualities which will have Erik ten Hag purring

Rio Ferdinand, BT Sport pundit

Manchester United look a far better side with Casemiro patrolling their midfield with Rio Ferdinand outlining the reasons why he regards the Brazilian as one of the best in the world in his position.

United are now up to fifth in the Premier League and within touching distance of the top four following Sunday’s 2-1 win at Everton. The Red Devils were forced to come from behind at Goodison, but now have five wins from their last six Premier League matches.

That victory came courtesy of a Cristiano Ronaldo winner, the Portuguese star stepping off the bench to fire home the decisive goal. That brought about his 700th club goal – and after the match Erik ten Hag hinted at a U-turn over Ronaldo’s future.

However, it was Casemiro’s role in the side that most pleased Ferdinand.

The Brazilian was a £70m summer signing from Real Madrid but has had to wait patiently for his chance. Indeed, he was recently branded a panic buy by Paul Scholes, who questioned whether Casemiro was actually wanted by Ten Hag.

And after their 6-3 derby mauling last weekend, Ferdinand took it upon himself to question the decision at leaving him benched.

But a week is a long time in football and Casemiro was handed a first Premier League start at Goodison.

And while the Brazilian’s mistake resulted in Everton’s early opener, he soon recovered to play a leading role in their win.

Now Ferdinand has highlighted the Brazilian’s excellent performance and believes his work off the ball means he must be one of the first names on Ten Hag’s teamsheet.

Rio Ferdinand highlights best Casemiro qualities

“Casemiro has the experience,” Ferdinand told BT Sport. “He’s won multiple Champions Leagues, he understands football.

“Even though it’s a different stadium, a different environment, he will get used to it and adapt quickly because of his intelligence.

“You don’t play at that level [at Real Madrid] without having a level of intelligence. Yes he started poorly, he gave the ball away for the goal, but as the manager said he grew into the game.

“If you had a highlights reel on him today with the ball, you’d say he shouldn’t be playing maybe.”

Talking up his major qualities, Ferdinand added: “But without the ball, the positions that he took up, the way he regained possession, [the way he] didn’t allow [opposition] players to play the ball forward into dangerous areas, that is what you need in your team if you are going to have any stability.

“I’m not concerned with him on the ball, he will give it to the players who can create.”

And explaining why he is a must-pick for Ten Hag, Ferdinand concluded: “That’s been his game his whole career. He is there to plug gaps, plug spaces.

“For me, as a centre-back, you need someone in front of you who knows how to marshal that space in front, to not give away opportunities easily.

“He’s the only midfield player in the Man United squad that knows how to defend instinctively and it’s part of his make-up, the best part of his game.”

Best of Casemiro still to come

Ferdinand is right and the best of Casemiro is surely still to come for United.

He has cut a frustrated figure in the opening weeks of his time at Old Trafford. However, some would argue that Ten Hag has handled the situation perfectly.

His slow introduction to the side has allowed him to understand the English game better. It’s also not bundled too much pressure on his shoulders too soon.

And much like the slow start Fabinho made at Liverpool, he is now one of the trusted stars of Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Casemiro can be United’s version of that – and then some. The Brazilian offers excellent protection for the defence and in that regard, can do the role of Fred and Scott McTominay in one.

He’s also a player of vast experience, a proven winner and someone who knows how to keep it simple. And by breaking up opposition attacks and by giving the ball to United’s creative players, he can be a huge asset when possession is turned over.

Casemiro can now expect a much more regular run of games in the United side as the busy schedule continues with games this week against Omonoia on Thursday and Newcastle on Sunday.

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