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Casemiro takes on 'elder statesman' role at Manchester United to help fill Cristiano Ronaldo void

Tom Fenton

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Casemiro takes on 'elder statesman' role at Manchester United to help fill Cristiano Ronaldo void

When Cristiano Ronaldo left Old Trafford earlier this month, there must have been concern amongst some at Manchester United over how the loss of another senior player might affect the dressing room.

Erik ten Hag and his coaching staff needn't have worried though, as in Casemiro they have stumbled upon a gem - who is now assuming a 'statesman like' role within the squad.

As per The Times, Casemiro has quickly established himself as the 'elder statesman' of the group and has a 'magnetic' presence on the training ground, where he regularly engages with the younger members of the squad.

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Having signed for United in a £70 million deal last summer, its fair to say a lot was expected of the 30-year-old, who won just about every trophy on offer while at Real Madrid.

However, given the seniority and star power of many of his former Los Blancos teammates, we never truly saw the leadership abilities of Casemiro at his former club.

It's a very different story at Man United though, where he is now one of the most senior figures following the departure of Ronaldo.

The Portuguese superstar was released from his United contract early following an explosive interview with broadcaster and friend, Piers Morgan.

He'd go onto sign for Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr, where he will reportedly earn around £172 million per year.

Suffice to say, his exit left a sour taste in the mouth of many United fans, but the club's stellar Premier League run since his departure has surely helped soften the blow.

Ronaldo signing his Al Nassr contract. (Image Credit: Alamy)
Ronaldo signing his Al Nassr contract. (Image Credit: Alamy)

Ten Hag's side are currently fourth in the Premier League table, eight points off pacesetters Arsenal.

While winning the title may prove to be one step too far for United this season, Champions League qualification is most certainly on the cards.

Nevertheless, the gap to Arsenal could be closed to just five points if the Red Devils can beat the league leaders at the Emirates on Sunday (22 January).

They will be without Casemiro for the trip to North London, with the Brazil international picking up a match ban against Palace earlier this week.

Club legend Gary Neville told Sky Sports that the loss of the midfielder could be decisive against the Gunners: "They [United] beat them [Arsenal] without Casemiro last time. They're going to have to play extremely well, defend well, especially in the first half hour when Arsenal are electric, but they don't have a great bench.

Casemiro gets booked against Crystal Palace. Image: Alamy
Casemiro gets booked against Crystal Palace. Image: Alamy

"If you get through that first period of the game, what you're going to face is what you're going to face later on in the game. They had that problem against Newcastle, who defended really well against them. But Arsenal are in great form, massive favourites for the game with Casemiro out."

As for Ronaldo, he most recently played for the 'Riyadh XI' in a friendly match against PSG.

Last Thursday's game (19 January), which the Parisians won 5-4, saw the 37-year-old face off against long-time rival Lionel Messi for quite possibly the very last time.

Ronaldo got on the scoresheet twice, much to the delight of the Saudi fans at King Fahd International Stadium.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo, Casemiro, Premier League, Al Nassr, Erik Ten Hag

Tom Fenton
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