Man Utd already know Casemiro successor as Erik ten Hag ‘loves’ same player as Barcelona | Football | Sport

Manchester United fans drooling over Casemiro’s performances since joining in a £70million deal this year also ponder the worrying question: ‘How on earth can Erik ten Hag replace him?’ The Dutchman has reportedly discovered his ideal successor and could return to Spain to recruit him.

The jaw-dropping fee involved in United’s successful capture of Casemiro from Real Madrid in the summer unsurprisingly raised eyebrows.

His age, 30, and the fact he appeared to be a fall-back option after the failed pursuits of Frenkie de Jong and Adrien Rabiot didn’t draw confidence.

However, the Brazilian midfielder has been the heart of Ten Hag’s newly-introduced system at Old Trafford, consistently producing standout performances to help overturn United’s fortunes.

A player of his importance will need a succession plan once he tips over his peak in a few years, and Ten Hag has seemingly already got one in place.

According to Mundo Deportivo, United are interested in signing Real Sociedad midfielder Martin Zubimendi.

Ten Hag is a huge admirer of the 23-year-old Spaniard, who impressed against his side in the Europa League group stage.

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But he is joined by Xavi in highly-rating Zubimendi, and the Barcelona boss views him as the perfect long-term successor for Sergio Busquets after his exit in July.

Chelsea are also said to be in the frame, but United are particularly eyeing his signature amid a standout season that has fuelled his growing reputation in Spain.

The report adds that, despite the heavyweight interest, La Real are confident Zubimendi will stay beyond January, given he is contracted until 2027.

He has a £53m release clause in his current deal in San Sebastian, which United and Barca will unlikely be able to afford this winter.

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Ten Hag has attempted to revolutionise the Red Devils’ midfielder after years of mediocrity since the days of Bryan Robson, Roy Keane, Paul Scholes, Park Ji-sung and Michael Carrick.

He acquired Christian Eriksen on a free transfer before sanctioning the big-money move for Casemiro, and reports suggest he isn’t done there.

United continue to be linked with Jude Bellingham and Enzo Fernandez and are among the frontrunners for Declan Rice.

But Zubimendi presents an option potentially more than half the cost of all three, which could attract Ten Hag as he eyes reinforcements in several areas of his squad.

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