Man Utd have already lost perfect Casemiro partner because of Erik ten Hag and Ed Woodward

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It’s perhaps ironic that, in the very summer Manchester United lose Paul Pogba, they now sign the perfect player to go alongside the France international. Casemiro is heading to Old Trafford this summer, with the Real Madrid star poised to pen a four-year contract in a huge £60million deal. Given his reputation as one of the world’s best defensive-midfielders, the likes of Erik ten Hag and Ed Woodward can now be forgiven for thinking how things could have been different if they’d been able to secure his signature some time ago…

Manchester United thought they had struck gold in 2016, when they re-signed Pogba from Juventus for a world record fee of £89million.

It seemed the perfect deal, on paper at least. Jose Mourinho wanted a midfield general, the Glazers wanted a big name and fans of the Red Devils wanted to see their side challenging for the Premier League title again after a few iffy years under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal.

Pogba turned down Real Madrid in order to join United, believing he had unfinished business at the club. Returning as a maturer midfielder, many expected him to be a huge hit.

Alas, things didn’t work out that way.

Pogba certainly had his moments in a United shirt, with the France international shining as the club won the EFL Cup and Europa League titles under Mourinho in their first year together.

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But after a fiery bust-up with the Portuguese during a 2-0 defeat to Tottenham in February 2018, Pogba was never able to recover.

He toiled under Mourinho, with the pair falling out. And though he impressed when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer first took charge, the goals and assists ended up fizzling out.

Pogba, during the final two years of his time at United, made it clear to Ed Woodward via Solskjaer that he was eager to stay. He was prepared to sign a big new contract, providing the details were right from his perspective.

Yet Woodward warned the Juventus star that he wouldn’t break the bank to keep him.

This, ultimately, upset the 2018 World Cup winner. Frustrated when Alexis Sanchez earned more than him following his move from Arsenal four years ago, Pogba believed he wasn’t getting the reward he felt he deserved.

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Woodward’s refusal was part of the reason why the midfielder left this summer. Knowing United wouldn’t pay him the same as Cristiano Ronaldo, he was deeply unhappy with the situation.

And Ten Hag also played a role in his departure, too.

When the United manager first took charge this summer, he held meetings with the hierarchy behind the scenes. Pogba’s name, somewhat inevitably, was discussed.

Up until May, the France international still hadn’t decided his future. While he did have a new contract on the table, he felt the terms needed tinkering to reflect his huge status in the side.

And Ten Hag was asked what he wanted to do with the midfielder.

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Ultimately, however, the Dutchman believed it was right for everybody to go their separate ways. United onto mission Frenkie de Jong, Pogba to Juventus.

Fast-forward to now, and De Jong obviously won’t be joining with a deal described as ‘highly improbable’ by industry insiders.

Instead, it’ll be Casemiro touching down. Make no mistake about it, despite what the critics say, the Brazil international represents some signing.

He has been part of Europe’s best midfield over the past eight years, a crucial cog in the Real Madrid machine alongside the likes of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.

Casemiro may have lost some of his earlier pace but his footballing intelligence dwarfs anything United currently have at their disposal, especially when it comes to the centre of the field.

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And and can be forgiven for thinking: Just how good would he have been for Pogba?

Casemiro is a grafter, somebody capable of digging in. He’s made his name by doing the dirty work at Real Madrid, often allowing Kroos and Modric to take the spotlight.

Pogba, by comparison, often had to contend with playing alongside the likes of Morgan Schneiderlin, a waning Nemanja Matic and an inconsistent Ander Herrera during his stint in Manchester.

Casemiro and Pogba would have been a perfect double act in the middle of the park.

Instead, that ship has sailed. And Bruno Fernandes and Fred, it seems, are now poised to partner the Brazil international going forward. 

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