WATCH: Why Casemiro is Manchester United's most important player – and NOT for the reasons you think

Manchester United midfielder Casemiro celebrates against Reading in the FA Cup in January 2023.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Manchester United missed Casemiro against Fulham at the weekend. The Brazilian is currently suspended and it was only when three Cottagers were dismissed – Willian, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Marco Silva – that the game really turned. 

The absence of a midfield general of his ilk was clear, with plenty of United fans noting that the pairing of Marcel Sabitzer and Scott McTominay was a significant downgrade on what Erik ten Hag has been used to.

But dig a little deeper and you'll see that Casemiro is even more valuable than you even realised…

Manchester United need Casemiro for his work going forward – as much as his work defensively

Yes, Casemiro is brilliant defensively. As a ball-winning midfielder, he's arguably the best in the Premier League, as demonstrated by the numbers. 

As Adam Clery points out in the video above, Casemiro averages 5.5 tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes. That's almost double what any other Manchester United player manages in a game. In fact, Casemiro also wins the ball aerially more than anyone else, too. 

But here's the clincher: the currently absent Christian Eriksen leads the team for progressive passes – but as Adam says, Eriksen's been out for months, anyway. Second on the list? Yep: Casemiro. The Brazilian creates 2.6 expected assists (xA) a match, ahead of Marcus Rashford at 2.1. 

A brief explanation of how Casemiro affects both boxes

A brief explanation of how Casemiro affects both boxes (Image credit: Future)

Adam Clery, FFT

(Image credit: Future)

FFT ON YOUTUBE Check out more in-depth analysis on our YouTube channel

"You take that man out of the pitch and all of a sudden, your defensive cover goes away," Adam says in the video. "You lose the majority of your tackles and interceptions every single game.

"But you're also losing the second- or third-most creative player in your entire team for taking the ball from any location on the pitch and putting it in a more advantageous position. That is why you don't control games when you don't have him in the team."

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Mark White
Staff Writer

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo. 

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