Casemiro joined United last summer on a five-year-contract in a 60million deal from Real Madrid and was one of the side&aposs shining lights last season with seven goals in 51 games from defensive midfield while adding plenty of defensive steel. A player that won five Champions League titles with Real, his arrival was widely heralded, but the Brazilian is 32 next birthday.
An injury which will rule him out until Christmas leaves Scott McTominay and Sofyan Amrabat as the more defensive-minded players who can fit into the role. But with Amrabat only on loan and McTominay better as a box-to-box midfielder, there may need to be a younger alternative brought in with forward planning – and the Manchester Evening News takes a look at who those players could be.
United&aposs potential new midfield enigma could come in the form of Onana – and his quick adaptation to English football already has rival clubs purring over his potential signature in the future. The Belgium international is a fan favourite at Everton, with his strength, athleticism and recovery being a huge reason why the Merseyside club have become tough to beat recently.
At just 22 years of age, the Senegal-born star signed for the Toffees for a fee of 33million last summer, so it wouldn&apost come cheap to prise him away. But with United&aposs reputation, a wage increase and at least a potential chance for European football, you can never say never.
United would have to spend a lot of money to land Zubimendi, but they&aposd be making a lot of Europe&aposs best teams jealous in the process. The Real Sociedad midfielder has been imperious since making his debut for the San Sebastian-based outfit in 2019, racking up over 200 appearances for the club and making his Spain debut with national team chiefs recognising his efforts.
As someone in the ilk of a Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets, he has much more prowess on the ball as opposed to Casemiro, even if his defensive capabilities are naturally not as strong. But at the age of just 24 and with plenty believing he is ready to take the next step in his career, deploying him in the No. 6 role could suit Ten Hag down to the ground.
Rodriguez would be a great option to at least consider in the January market. He&aposs one of a few players who are out of contract at the end of the season – and for clubs who are not competing in the same nation, you can offer those players a &apospre-contract&apos within the final six months of their contract to land them in the summer.
Real Betis may well be looking to sell if they can&apost see themselves agreeing terms with the Argentine enforcer, and coming with over 120 La Liga appearances alongside almost 30 caps for his national team, it could well be the perfect cheap deal for Ten Hag to bring him in with regards to Amrabat&aposs exit in the summer.
Why not look in-house for an alternative? Mainoo may well be more attack-minded than Casemiro is, but he&aposs got undoubted quality on the ball and could act more as a deep-lying playmaker in the ilk of a Xavi, Marco Verratti and the like.
It&aposs a move that would bring United back to their youth academy roots. Of the current first-team squad, there is only McTominay and Marcus Rashford who have progressed through the ranks in recent years, whilst Mainoo, Hannibal Mejbri and Shola Shoretire are aiming to do the same.