Erik ten Hag is satisfied with his midfield options in the Manchester United squad but refused to rule out reinforcing the area before next week’s transfer deadline.
United have spent almost the entirety of the summer window attempting to find a resolution to sign Frenkie de Jong, having agreed an €85million fee with Barcelona, but the Dutchman’s wage deferral has halted any further progress.
Despite Ten Hag’s fixation on De Jong, United last week swiftly negotiated a deal to sign Casemiro from Real Madrid for £60m rising to £70m.
Casemiro could make his United debut at Southampton on Saturday but is a defensive midfielder whereas De Jong is a creative option from deep.
Ten Hag admitted United were unsure how receptive Casemiro would be to joining the club and once they received a positive signal moved with alacrity.
“We have a list. We have options,” Ten Hag said of the shift in midfield target. “He was always on it but we didn’t know he would become available. In the moment that we got signals, we were proactive and we got it done and we are really happy about that.
“He is the cement between the stones, he can lead other players really well because he is a leader, he is a very good strategist and he can play a ball as well and he wins challenges.
“So he brings a lot into a game and he will help us. In between he will be the link, a really important role and I am really happy to have that role occupied in the squad.
“We have many options there now with Fred and Scott (McTominay). We have Casemiro, Christian (Eriksen), Bruno (Fernandes), Donny (van de Beek). So we have options there on how we can balance the midfield, yeah.
“In this moment, we are not the world’s top [team], clear. But the intention always has to be for Man United to look for better. So good is not good enough, always go for better and that has to be the culture in the whole of the club.
“On the pitch, that is what the demand is on the players but also in every department on the club. It has to be the standard. So it’s the demand and we have to go that way.”
United are prepared to sell academy midfielder James Garner, omitted from the squad for the 2-1 win over Liverpool.