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Manchester United icon Dimitar Berbatov has backed Erik ten Hag’s reported plans to sign a new midfielder amid Casemiro’s early-season struggles. Casemiro has struggled to match the performance levels he showcased in his debut campaign at Old Trafford, sparking suggestions United could be eyeing a long-term successor.
The 31-year-old helped revolutionise United’s midfield after his late £70million arrival from Real Madrid last summer.
But his performances since the turn of the season have been a significant cause for concern, contributing to the Red Devils’ disappointing start in the Premier League and Champions League.
Earlier this month, reports in Spain claimed that Casemiro regrets joining United, having experienced how the club is run, and could even look to leave for a new challenge in the near future.
Berbatov hopes those reports are wide of the mark but admits the Brazil captain has been far from his best in recent months.
“I hope this is just a bad rumour because it’s going to bring unwanted heat towards him in a moment where he’s not playing how he used to play,” Berbatov told Betfair.
“So, I hope it’s nothing but a rumour and that there’s nothing to it. He has shown at Real Madrid how highly rated he is, how he can play top, top football – he showed that at Man United in his first season.
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“He’s set high standards for himself, so it’s up to him to continue to prove to everyone that he’s the player that people know he is.
“Time is going by, and he’s getting older, so he needs to be smarter in how he plays the game, how he approaches games, how he reads the game.”
United are reportedly eyeing Benfica midfielder Joao Neves to help bolster Ten Hag’s midfield and build for the future.
The 19-year-old has been labelled ‘Bruno Fernandes 2.0’ but could be challenging to lure away from Lisbon, containing a £103m release clause in his contract that runs until 2028.
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However, Berbatov has welcomed United’s approach to replacing their ageing midfielders with young stars for Ten Hag’s long-term project.
Berbatov added: “Clubs always look to the future. You have to build towards the future. That’s always going to be the case if you’re looking for replacements for players who are going towards the end of their careers.
“If United are going for a younger midfielder, who they’re going to build as a replacement, that’s not a problem.
“You can buy someone who is 21, take him in the team, try to slowly adjust them to English football, and you need this because Casemiro is 31.”
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