Man Utd-bound Casemiro earned right to decide future after becoming Madrid legend – Perez

By Sports Desk August 21, 2022

Manchester United-bound Casemiro achieved legendary status at Real Madrid and thus deserved the right to decide his own future, according to Los Blancos president Florentino Perez.

Erik ten Hag's United have struck a deal with Madrid for a reported initial fee of around £60million (€70.7m) to sign the Brazil international.

The midfielder will reportedly move to Old Trafford on a four-year deal as Ten Hag attempts to improve a disappointing United side that sits bottom of the embryonic Premier League table.

Well wishes from team-mates and supporters alike have flooded in for midfield enforcer Casemiro, who has lifted five Champions League titles and three LaLiga trophies during his time in the Spanish capital.

Madrid chief Perez, who will appear alongside Casemiro at his farewell presentation on Monday, was quick to express his gratitude to the 30-year-old as he prepares for a new challenge in Manchester.

"Casemiro is a legend, he has earned the right to decide what he wants to do for everything he has given us," Perez told DAZN. 

"Next Monday, we will give him recognition with a tribute at the Ciudad Deportiva [training ground] for how much he has done for this club."

Casemiro will not arrive on English shores in time for the Premier League clash with Liverpool on Monday, though he may make his debut against Southampton the following week.

Madrid will still have the evergreen Luka Modric and Toni Kroos to call upon, along with Federico Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga and new signing Aurelien Tchouameni among Carlo Ancelotti's midfield ranks.

Los Blancos have started their LaLiga defence with back-to-back wins after thrashing Celta Vigo 4-1 on Saturday, and Perez assured the club will fight to defend their Spanish and European honours.

"We are facing this season with great enthusiasm, we believe that we have a great team and that we have a magnificent coach," he added.

"We are obsessed with fighting until the end and what a good result [Ancelotti] gave us last year, we are delighted."

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  • PSG confident Messi will extend contract and confirm Rashford interest PSG confident Messi will extend contract and confirm Rashford interest

    Lionel Messi will extend his contract with Paris Saint-Germain after the World Cup, according to president Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

    The Argentina superstar is out of contract at the end of the season and it has been reported during the tournament in Qatar that he had already agreed to terms to move to MLS, where he would join Inter Miami.

    Those links have since been downplayed, however, with Messi not set to make a decision on his future until after the World Cup, where Argentina are preparing for a quarter-final showdown against the Netherlands.

    Al-Khelaifi is optimistic his two-year spell at Parc des Princes will be extended as, when suggested by Sky Sports that Messi wants to stay in the French capital for longer, he said: "Definitely. He's very happy, you can see that with the national team.

    "If a player's not happy you will see their performance is not good for the national team. He performed fantastic this season for us, he's scored a lot of goals and assists for the national team and for the club.

    "So, what we agreed together – that after the World Cup, sit down together. But both sides – our side of the club and him – are very happy, so we will talk after the World Cup."

    Another player who could be a topic of discussion for PSG after the conclusion of the action in Qatar is England forward Marcus Rashford, who has scored three goals for Gareth Southgate's side in the tournament.

    Rashford's contract at Old Trafford is due to expire at the end of the season, though Manchester United have an option to extend for a further year, and Al-Khelaifi confirmed the French champions would look to revive their interest in such a scenario.

    "He's another player that is really amazing. And for free? To have Rashford for free, every club would run after him, definitely," he added.

    "We're not hiding it, we spoke before and [there was] interest. But the moment was not a good moment for both sides. Maybe, at the end of the season, why not?

    "Today if he's a free agent of course we can talk to him directly, but we are not going to talk to him now. Let him focus on the World Cup. Then in January, hopefully, if we're interested we will talk to him."

  • Mac Allister braced for Netherlands test Mac Allister braced for Netherlands test

    Alexis Mac Allister's rise to prominence in the Argentina squad has surprised even himself, and the Brighton midfielder is relishing the prospect of Friday's World Cup quarter-final against the Netherlands.

    Mac Allister did not play Argentina's first game in Qatar, a stunning 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia, but has subsequently cemented a place in Lionel Scaloni's midfield and quickly emerged as a key player.

    Argentina take on the Oranje at Lusail Stadium with a place in the semi-finals at stake and Mac Allister is excited at the prospect.

    "If you would have told me this [how influential he has become] before the World Cup I would have signed up for it, for sure," he said.

    "It has been a fast integration but the credit for that goes to my colleagues and the technical staff."

    The Netherlands will pose a serious threat to Argentina's hopes but Mac Allister was more interested in talking up his team-mates than spending too much time worrying about Louis van Gaal's men.

    He added: "We know they have great players, and a very clear style, but we have our own weapons and will try to counter theirs.

    "There is a great history between the sides but if we do things right everything will be fine."

    The nations have met five times previously at the World Cup, with the last coming in 2014 when Argentina won a semi-final clash in Brazil on penalties after a turgid 0-0 draw.

    Van Gaal was also in charge of the Dutch on that occasion, during his second spell of three at the helm, and Mac Allister was full of admiration for the 71-year-old.

    "I remember watching that game with my family at home," he said. "I enjoyed it and now I am here. Being able to play these matches is a great joy.

    "We know he's a top coach, world renowned, and there is a great deal of respect from everyone in our camp, including me. His teams always have variation but with a clear idea. We are up against a great team."

    Lionel Messi has been Argentina's standout player so far in Qatar and stopping him could be key to the outcome.

    Reports in the Netherlands suggest Van Gaal is considering employing someone to man mark the Paris Saint-Germain star but Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni claims to have seen it all before.

    He said: "We are used to our opponents coming up with something different. We will see but, during the match, there are always modifications, and that’s something we are likely to do as well.

    "Let's wait and see but we have played matches before when there has been man-marking on Leo."

    Argentina have injury concerns over Rodrigo De Paul and Angel Di Maria but Scaloni was not giving much away regarding their availability.

    "Today we have the last training session so we will see how they feel," he said. "Rodrigo trained on Wednesday so let's see what happens in today's session. Angel also trained so we will decide later today."

  • Croatia v Brazil: Neymar proud of matching Pele and Ronaldo as Tite explains dance joy Croatia v Brazil: Neymar proud of matching Pele and Ronaldo as Tite explains dance joy

    Brazil coach Tite has explained that joining in with his team's celebrations against South Korea was not an act of disrespect to the opposition.

    The Selecao ran out 4-1 winners against South Korea on Monday as they sealed their place in the World Cup quarter-finals in style.

    Vinicius Junior opened the scoring before Neymar converted a penalty after a foul on Richarlison, who added a sublime third prior to Lucas Paqueta rounding off Brazil's haul.

    After Richarlison's goal, which capped a superb move, Tite celebrated with the Tottenham forward by performing the 'pigeon' dance.

    He was criticised by some sections of the media, but Tite has explained he meant no disrespect.

    "We try to adapt to the athletes' characteristics. They are young, I have to get closer to their language," he said.

    "One day we were training and I said to Richarlison 'if you score a goal, I'll dance'.

    "I told the players to hide me a little, I know about the visibility.

    "I didn't want it to have any other interpretation than the joy of the goal, the result, the performance, but not disrespect for the opponent or Paulo Bento, who I have great respect for."

    With his goal, meanwhile, Neymar matched Pele and Ronaldo as the third Brazil player to score at three different World Cups. 

    The Paris Saint-Germain star is also just one short of matching Pele's record goal haul of 77 for Brazil.

    "Achieving marks is a great source of pride," Neymar said.

    "I reached numbers that I would never have imagined reaching, that's always very good. It makes me very happy."

     

    Croatia stand between Brazil and a place in the last four.

    Brazil have never lost in four previous meetings with Croatia, with this their first meeting since a 2-0 friendly win in June 2018.

    Brazil are looking to reach the World Cup semi-final for the ninth time, with only Germany (12) doing so more often. 

    Croatia, runners-up in 2018, have reached at least the last four of the competition on both previous occasions they've made it out of the group stages (1998 and 2018).

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Brazil – Neymar

    Neymar has been involved in 15 goals in his last 11 appearances for Brazil in all competitions (eight goals, seven assists), with each of his last six goals for the national side coming from the penalty spot.

    Last time out against South Korea, he became the first Brazil player on record (since 1966) to both score and provide an assist at three different World Cup tournaments.

    Croatia – Luka Modric

    Real Madrid star Luka Modric was not on the pitch as Croatia progressed past Japan on penalties in the last 16, but if Zlatko Dalic's team are to beat Brazil, the 37-year-old will surely be crucial.

    He will go up against former Madrid club-mate Casemiro, and will need the assistance of Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic, but if Modric can wield his influence, Croatia have a chance.

    PREDICTION

    Croatia have lost four of their five World Cup games against South American sides, with the exception being a 3-0 win over Argentina in 2018. Two of those four defeats have been against Brazil – 1-0 in 2006 and 3-1 in 2014.

    Despite getting to the final in Russia, Croatia have been handed only an 11.5 per chance of victory by Opta's model, which has Brazil as the favourites with 68.2 per cent.

    The draw is at 20.3 per cent.

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