Casemiro has emerged as one of the Saudi Pro League’s primary transfer targets for 2024, with an offer even possible for the Manchester United midfielder in January, 90min understands.
United signed the Brazilian from Real Madrid in August 2022 after a poor start to Erik ten Hag’s reign as manager, and he made a huge difference to the solidity of the team in the months that followed. Casemiro scored a number of important goals, helping United to a top four finish in the Premier League, a Carabao Cup win and FA Cup final appearance.
His signing has been met with criticism at times due to its huge cost – United paid £60m plus an additional £10m in add-ons and agreed to wages around £300,000 a week – as well as the length of the contract. United are just over a year into a four-year agreement and also have an option to trigger a further season’s stay, with Casemiro turning 32 in February.
While a short-term success, Casemiro has struggled for form in the early months of the new campaign, with United losing five of their 11 league games to date. His ability to cover ground in Ten Hag’s team has been criticised while the manager himself also controversially stated he “wanted more football” as a reason for substituting him against Brentford last month.
Casemiro is injured at present but is, as 90min has learned, one of the names of interest to the Saudi Pro League as they look to continue building a competitive division of top-level players. Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar are two of the best-known stars to choose to move to the Middle East to date and PIF are preparing for a new wave of incomings in 2024.
It’s understood that a number of United players, with Casemiro and even captain Bruno Fernandes, are of interest and the chances of deals are being explored via intermediaries.
Bruno is United‘s new club captain and no deal will even be entertained before next summer, if at all, but that hasn’t stopped representatives on PIF’s side exploring the option. It’s thought however that Casemiro may be more available in January due to the potential prospect of United recouping a large chunk of their initial expense on the player, in terms of transfer fee and wages.
United are not actively shopping Casemiro but with their position along the lines of Financial Fair Play a concern for several months, would be open to selling for the right offer. United have seen rivals Liverpool and Chelsea cash in massively over the last year from sales to the Saudi Pro League and it has helped their own squad renovations.
Anthony Martial has also been of interest to Saudi clubs for some time, and is out of contract next summer.
It’s expected that 25% of United will in the coming weeks be purchased by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, and that those responsible for the football operations at the club will change to people Ratcliffe has chosen. Jean-Claude Blanc is in line to join as CEO and Paul Mitchell, formerly of Tottenham, RB Leipzig and Monaco, could soon join as sporting director or equivalent title.
Ratcliffe and INEOS are expected to put forward a substantial commitment to improving United’s facilities and it’s likely their manner of operation in the transfer market will change, pivoting away from United’s much-criticised transfer strategy of the post Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill years.
What we know
- Casemiro joined United last summer for£70m and is one of the club’s highest earners
- United have endured a difficult start to the new season
- Glazer family are in process of selling 25% stake in the club to Sir Jim Ratcliffe.