When Manchester United confirmed the €70 million signing of Casemiro from Real Madrid, director of football John Murtaugh described him as “one of the best midfielders in world football”. Manager Erik ten Hag hinted that he was some sort of missing piece of the puzzle – “the cement between the stones” – and, unveiled ahead of a 2-1 victory over rivals Liverpool at Old Trafford on 22 August, the Brazilian international received a cheer hero.

But more than six weeks later, Casemiro has only played 82 minutes of Premier League football. He has yet to start league play for his new club and when Ten Hag selected a side to play Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, the 30-year-old remained on the bench.

- Advertisement -

As Pep Guardiola’s team blasted through United with alarming ease and took a 4-0 lead at half-time, the TV cameras moved to the bench to show Casemiro and former Real Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo in bewilderment. There was also some distrust among United fans about how one of the world’s most accomplished defensive midfielders could be allowed to watch such an important game – one that would, in theory, fit his strengths – from the sidelines.

- Advertisement -

Explaining his decision after the 6-3 defeat, Ten Hag said he wanted to keep his faith in a team that won four league games in a row after a disastrous start to the campaign against Brighton and Brentford, but the manner of the defeat meant he was wrong.

- Advertisement -

– Broadcasts on Sportzshala+: La Liga, Bundesliga, MLS and more (USA)

“The day we signed him, we started winning and that goes for the team,” said the Dutchman. “The team is doing very well, they are not against Casemiro. In this case it’s Scott McTominay, he did a great job with the team and then we ran. But I’m sure it will be important for us in the long and short term. [Casemiro] finds himself in the team, but it has to happen naturally.”

Ten Hag is set to make changes after a humiliating loss to City and Casemiro is likely to start against Omonia in the Europa League clash in Cyprus on Thursday. But questions remain as to why the five-time Champions League winner has to wait for opportunities in the Europa League and is not yet a regular first-choice XI.

This has led former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand to suggest that Casemiro may already be regretting his decision to trade Real for Manchester.

“I wonder what effect that has on someone like him” Ferdinand spoke about this on his YouTube channel Five.. “Yeah, he’s experienced and all, but he must be sitting there thinking, ‘Wow, I feel a bit disrespectful here with what I’ve done.’ I would be surprised if he didn’t feel that way.”

Some fans believe that Casemiro was never Ten Hag’s choice. It doesn’t help one of United’s top five summer signings that he’s odd because he has no ties to either Ajax or the Dutch Eredivisie. Lisandro Martinez and Anthony played under Ten Hag at Ajax; Christian Eriksen, a former Ajax player, trained with the Dutch giants while recovering from cardiac arrest; Tyrell Malasia was signed from Feyenoord and would have been on the radar of Ajax last summer if Ten Hag had stayed in Amsterdam.

Ten Hag was desperate for a No. 6-style midfielder and wanted another one of his former Ajax players, Frenkie de Jong, but when a proposed €85m deal with Barcelona became too complicated, United turned their attention to Casemiro. .

Sources told Sportzshala that Murtow and technical director Darren Fletcher were impressed with Casemiro’s desire to move, especially amid De Jong’s reluctance to leave Barcelona, ​​but while Ten Hag agreed to go after Casemiro, United’s managers could veto any transfer with which they don’t agree. c – the Brazilian is very different from De Jong, who wants to pass and have the ball.

The movement between players with very different profiles has raised more questions about United’s transfer strategy and, more importantly, suggests that Ten Hag is still trying to decide what to do with his new midfielder.

‘All the other clubs are very accurate, you won’t see them jumping like pinballs in the transfer market from one to the other’ – former United defender Gary Neville told Sky Sports. “This is De Jong, right? [PSG’s Adrien] Rabiot, and then it turns out to be Casemiro with a phenomenal contract that will cost the club £160m. When you’re desperate, I guess you pay beyond the odds.”

Those close to Casemiro insist his move to United was not about money and that he will only make more money than at Real Madrid if he can help the club return to the Champions League. However, to do this, he needs to be in the team, and although Ten Hag openly says that the player must prove that he must play in the most important games, Ferdinand believes that his long absence will also be a problem for the manager. like a player.

“These are the storylines of what Ten Hag has to deal with,” said the former England defender. “That’s what management is, it has to manage this type of player, this type of ego, the pride that comes with these players.

“If you don’t play you will see a difference in how they look at you now and that is something you have to deal with. He [Ten Hag] He did not have such problems at Ajax with the players that he had, he controlled everything, he was the master of the universe there. Here you have to deal with a big ego and that’s a challenge when you come to a top club.”

Along with Ronaldo and other players in need of a game, Casemiro will get a rare chance to impress in Nicosia this week, but the real test of his status will come when Ten Hag names his team to face Everton on Sunday.

This is the type of game – fast and fierce, played in a hostile atmosphere in Goodison Park – that should suit the player with his experience and composure. But it was the same with the Manchester derby, and Casemiro was forced to watch most of it from the bench.