Man Utd star named ‘best midfielder in the world’ as Brazil book spot in World Cup last 16

Casemiro and Fred in training with Manchester United

Brazil boss Tite and injured superstar Neymar hailed Casemiro as the “best midfielder in the world” after seeing him fire his country through to the World Cup knockout stage.

The Manchester United man’s 83rd-minute strike secured a 1-0 Group G win over Switzerland on Monday which means they are through with a game to spare, prompting Neymar to tweet after the game: “Casemiro has been the best midfielder in the world for a long time.”

Asked at his post-match press conference if he agreed, Tite said: “As a habit, I always respect opinions and I usually don’t comment on opinions, but I will allow myself to do so today. I agree.”

Without Neymar, Brazil were frustrated for long periods at Stadium 974 before Casemiro rounded off good work by Vinicius Junior and substitute Rodrygo to score the game’s only goal and send them into their final group fixture against Cameroon on Friday in a commanding position.

Asked about the Paris St Germain star’s absence, Tito said: “Obviously Neymar has a different skill-set. He is a player who in a magical moment can dribble past you and all of a sudden, you say, ‘What happened here?’. He has that skill.

“Other players are getting there to get to the level he is at and I hope they get there. Yes, we do miss Neymar, we do miss him. He has a big creative power, he’s very effective so we miss him, yes.

“But there are other players who can take their opportunity.”

Brazil better placed for Qatar glory

Casemiro, who joined United from Real Madrid this summer, played down his decisive intervention and insisted Brazil were better-placed to mount a serious challenge for glory than they were four years ago, when they were beaten by Belgium in the last eight.

He said: “Four years have gone by, there are new players. This year we have a wider range of options, we have more players to choose from.

“Without even changing the team, we have a possibility of changing the way we play. If we substitute players, we have even more options.

“Therefore, there is no doubt whatsoever that the options are much greater than those in 2018.”

Casemiro’s performances for United and in Qatar come off the back of continued links to Barcelona midfielder Frenkie De Jong.

The Netherlands international has been a long-time target for United, although transfer insider Fabrizio Romano has shot down the chances of a January transfer.

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