Rio Ferdinand highlighted why Sofyan Amrabat is a major upgrade on a current Manchester United star, though explained why Casemiro is crucial to ensuring the signing is a success.
The Morocco international, 27, has joined Man Utd on an initial season-long loan deal. Fiorentina will receive €10m as a loan fee, though United have inserted an option to buy worth €20m plus a further €5m in add-ons. If triggered, the total package would be worth €35m (£30m).
Amrabat is a specialist holding midfielder and will add steel and bite to an area of the pitch that has proved troublesome in the season’s early going.
Indeed, Mason Mount was initially deployed alongside Casemiro in the double pivot, though struggled to impact the game at both ends of the pitch.
That resulted in Casemiro being overrun against Wolves and Tottenham, with United lucky to taste victory against the former and suffering to 2-0 defeat to the latter.
As such, United moved for Amrabat and wrapped up their move on deadline day. Amrabat has already completed a remote medical in Pisa and was recorded boarding a flight to Manchester earlier on Saturday.
Now, responding to the move, United legend, Rio Ferdinand, insisted Amrabat is a step up on former United midfielder Fred and current option Scott McTominay.
However, Amrabat’s disciplinary issues – picking up 16 yellow cards for Fiorentina last season – are a concern.
Ferdinand believes the faster-paced Premier League could prove troublesome for Amrabat, as it did for Casemiro at times last season.
Indeed, the Brazil veteran racked up 13 yellow cards and two reds in his debut season in England.
As a result, Ferdinand is hopeful Casemiro’s experience will rub off on Amrabat or United wil run the risk of losing their two most effective holding midfielders to various suspensions.
Amrabat an “enforcer”, but must adapt quickly – Ferdinand
“I managed to see him live at the World Cup two or three times and I think he was very good, even against France,” Ferdinand told his Vibe with Five YouTube channel.
“Defensively he’ll give us great cover for someone like Casemiro if he gets suspended or needs resting.
“At times we’ll need to play two sixes, and he’ll be someone who can come in and that’s what he’s there to do.
“He’s a skilled six, deep player, that’s his role. We’ve had players like Fred, McTominay – no disrespect, they wanted to do well – but I’ve always said when you look at their player ID, there was never defensive nous in their kit.
“This guy has that, that’s his game. He’s an enforcer, he stops other teams playing, he’s very cute positionally and he’s very disciplined. Those are traits you need as a defensive midfielder.”
Detailing the challenges Amrabat will face in England, as well as highlighting Casemiro’s importance, Ferdinand continued: “All players need to adapt and if he can do that quickly I think he’ll be fine. The game is quicker than Serie A, definitely.
“He’s an international footballer who played well on the international scene so hopefully he’s got the common sense and concentration to be able to make sure he’s right.
“I think someone like Casemiro, with his experience of last year missing a few games because of his ill-discipline here and there and maybe naivety towards the league, might be able to give him a point in the right direction.”