Casemiro is one of the most in-form players at Real Madrid at the moment. After an impressive UEFA Super Cup performance against Manchester United and praise from manager Zinedine Zidane to go with it, it seems that the Brazilian midfielder is going nowhere this transfer window.
Casemiro began his career with the youth team at Sao Paulo Futebol Club. In 2010, he was called up to the senior team to replace Hernanes, who transferred to Lazio around the same time that summer. It was while training at the Morumbi in Sao Paulo that he began to turn heads with his aggressive defensive style.
He caught the attention of Spanish giants Real Madrid in January 2013, who had a loan deal worked out for the Brazilian. Casemiro would spend some time in the second division with Real Madrid B before being called up. Real Madrid eventually activated his six million Euro buyout clause, thus making him a first team player. Sami Khedira and Xabi Alonso were in good form at the time, so Casemiro found himself as a reserve with limited minutes under Rafa Benitez.
FC Porto would come knocking in July of 2014, so Madrid sent Casemiro out for a season long loan. After his spell in the Portuguese league, Casemiro became a regular first-team player under new manager Zinedine Zidane. As the assistant manager, Zidane pushed for Casemiro’s minutes to increase, and now as head of the team, he could make that a reality.
Since then, Casemiro has had two impressive seasons for Los Blancos, including back-to-back Champions Leagues, and a La Liga title. He is a wall that rarely gets broken down and has earned himself the nickname O Monstro from Brazilians and Real Madrid supporters. Despite backing up players like Luka Modric, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Cristiano Ronaldo, Casemiro has continued to make a name for himself as a silent destructor who can be relied upon to provide quality in the middle of the pitch. He is one of the main reasons that Real Madrid has been so successful, especially because of how Madrid has been known to be shaky defensively, if one were to nit-pick the best club in the world’s flaws. If a team controls the midfield, they are more likely to dominate possession and therefore win the game, so while Kroos and Modric are constantly trying to orchestrate the attack, Casemiro makes sure to cover the counter. He is everywhere on the field, and silences other midfielders and attacking players. Paulo Dybala was a ghost in the 2017 Champions League Final, being dispossessed by Casemiro several times.
Not only has the 25-year-old been impressive for Real Madrid, but he has also won his spot in the starting eleven for the Brazilian national team. He controls the center of the field, and contains even the flashiest of players.
Casemiro has grown into a more agile and mobile midfielder that has added more to his arsenal as he has grown into his role. He is one of the best tacklers in the world, great in the air, and his defensive stance enables him to intercept and deflect many passes from opponents. The Brazilian’s passing was noticeably better, finishing with a passing percentage of over 85% in the 2016-17 La Liga season. He has also added a rocket of a right foot to his arsenal and has proven to be a poacher in front of goal for set pieces.
We live in a sports society that is obsessed with triple doubles, hat tricks, and statistics in general. The little things that aren’t usually measured, like defensive positioning and not losing sight of your man are underappreciated. In the final leg of the Spanish Super Cup played at the Bernabeu, Casemiro came on in the final 30 minutes and shut down Lionel Messi. He rarely lost sight of the Argentine, and his defensive positioning was outstanding. When Messi did receive the ball, he didn’t bother to turn because he knew that the six-foot Brazilian was right on his back.
Even though his name isn’t usually the one on the score sheet, players like Casemiro need to be appreciated more for their efforts. The Brazilian has demonstrated what it’s like to be the general of the midfield with his consistent work ethic, and this should be valued and treasured by all supporters.