Mourinho's "best in the world" prediction coming true and transforming Man Utd

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Mourinho
Mourinho's "best in the world" prediction coming true and transforming Man Utd

Manchester United finally have a functioning midfield and it's much thanks to one man: Casemiro.

Emphatically silencing his critics, the Brazilian has been the bedrock of Erik ten Hag 's impressive revival at Old Trafford, as the Red Devils sit fourth in the Premier League with two games to go until the halfway stage. If it wasn't for a pair of humiliating defeats to Brighton and Brentford, which came before Casemiro had signed, United would be a close second behind league leaders Arsenal.

But it's because of those embarrassing results that the five-time Champions League winner came in from Real Madrid, as Casemiro made a private phone call to Red Devils football director John Murtough in August to explain to him how he could be Ten Hag's saviour. Club chiefs subsequently raised £70million to Real Madrid and the European champions reluctantly parted ways with their midfield general after nine outstanding years of service.

Mourinho's "best in the world" prediction coming true and transforming Man Utd eideeidediqxzinvJose Mourinho has been proven right (Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

Casemiro, who turns 31 next month, clearly knew his qualities and what he could offer United - just as Jose Mourinho predicted he would all the way back in 2013.

"[Mourinho told me] 'I know you, you are good, and you are going to be the best central midfielder in the world'," Casemiro told Cope in 2018, recalling a conversation he'd had with his former manager who brought him to Madrid five years prior.

Marcel Sabitzer completes Man Utd transfer after last-minute deadline day dashMarcel Sabitzer completes Man Utd transfer after last-minute deadline day dash

"He gave me this confidence, I left the dressing room believing that I was Cristiano Ronaldo. With the energy that he gave me, I was left believing that he was the best in the world. The confidence and energy that he gave me was incredible."

Have your say! Is Casemiro the best defensive midfielder in the world? Give us your verdict in the comments section.

Mourinho's "best in the world" prediction coming true and transforming Man UtdJose Mourinho signed Casemiro for Real Madrid (Raddad Jebarah/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Sometimes too much direct praise can prompt a player to take their foot off the gas and believe in their own hype, but not the budding Brazil international. Casemiro played 25 times for Los Blancos the following season before spending the 2014-15 campaign on loan with Porto.

More than 300 games for Real and 16 trophies later, the Sao Paulo academy graduate left the Santiago Bernabeu as one of the greatest defensive midfielders of his generation - if not the best. In a mere 10 Premier League starts since signing a lucrative four-year deal at Old Trafford, Casemiro has transformed the Red Devils' previously hapless midfield into a well-oiled machine, with the help of fellow experienced partner Christian Eriksen.

Mourinho's "best in the world" prediction coming true and transforming Man UtdCasemiro has been a revelation for Man Utd (Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Gone are the days of relying on the grafting but fragile pairing of Fred and Scott McTominay, as well as the ageing Nemanja Matic or mercurial Paul Pogba - four players brought into the side by Mourinho during his ill-fated spell in the Old Trafford hot seat. Instead, the steely Casemiro and playmaking Eriksen have improved United's defence and attack tenfold with a series of cultured performances in the engine room.

Overpriced considering his age profile and reported £300,000-a-week salary? Perhaps. But Ten Hag could've been out of a job already had he not pushed for the 30-year-old's arrival in August, knowing full well that his midfield needed an upgrade if the Red Devils were to stand a chance of returning to their past glories any time soon.

Maybe Mourinho could let United know who the world's next best midfielder will be.

Nathan Ridley

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