Man Utd have cheaper Casemiro Plan B and transfer would hurt Chelsea and Arsenal


The latest blip on Manchester United’s midfield radar is Real Madrid’s Brazilian ball-winner Casemiro. Certainly he would be a fine signing and offers qualities the Red Devils sorely lack in the middle of the park. But the 30-year-old, a five-time Champions League winner, might be just as hard to pry from Los Blancos as Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong has proven.

After all Casemiro is one of the finest in his position in world football. He’d cost a minimum of £50million and there would be plenty of persuasion needed for him to swap the Bernabeu for Old Trafford. Yet there might be another option closer to home – Leicester’s Wilfred Ndidi.

The Nigerian is younger than Casemiro and would surely be cheaper too. And Leicester need to sell players to raise money for signings of their own. They’re the only Premier League team yet to spend this summer while Wesley Fofana, Youri Tielemans and James Maddison have been the subjects of interest.

Leicester don’t want to sell anyone but perhaps they might find a respectable bid for Ndidi tempting. United should certainly consider making one – especially as it might then deny Chelsea or Arsenal the chance to sign Fofana and Tielemans as there would be no need for an influx of cash to freshen up Brendan Rodgers’ squad.

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The 25-year-old may not have as much Champions League experience as Casemiro but has played in the Premier League 167 times already. Since his debut in 2017, Ndidi has established himself as one of the best ball-winners in the division and is seriously adept at breaking up play.

The 47-cap Nigerian international’s durability has come into question in the last couple of seasons but when fit, Ndidi is one of the best tacklers and intercepters in the Premier League. He’s also strong aerially too. He may not be the greatest of ball-carriers and his passing may not always be progressive – a huge reason Erik ten Hag wants De Jong – but how United would benefit from his energy, defensive intelligence and ability to disrupt opposition attacks.

He would be an ideal foil for a player like Christian Eriksen, similarly to how he acts as a shield for Youri Tielemans to focus on being Leicester’s pass master. Ndidi could win the ball back and set off the likes of Eriksen, Bruno Fernandes and Jadon Sancho.

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The Leicester midfielder may not be the top candidate for United at present but the fact he’s out of contract in 2024 and the Foxes need to raise cash makes it realistic that Ten Hag could raid the King Power Stadium. Ndidi would not come cheap, of course, but there’s a possibility Leicester might be tempted for around £40million or so, which they could then reinvest.

The former Genk ace also five years younger than Casemiro and so there are more years and more games United could get from him in theory, in spite of his fitness problems. Adding some much-needed steel to Ten Hag’s midfield must be a top priority and Ndidi could do just that.

Let’s be clear – Ndidi alone wouldn’t solve all of United’s problems in the centre. But could he put out some of the fires that are burning uncomfortably brightly at Old Trafford at the moment? Ndidi could.


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