Casemiro: Now Or Never

Valerio Pennicino

With Khedira out for the rest of the season and after some good performances this past summer, Brazilian midfielder Casemiro will likely have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get an important place in Ancelotti's rotation.

Casemiro was arguably Real Madrid's biggest surprise of the 2013-2014 preseason. He displayed his good aerial skills and also a good work-rate and a impressive ability to make good combinations with his teammates. But he has been out of the squad list ever since coming off the bench in Real Madrid's first three matches against Betis, Granada and Athletic Bilbao.

Casemiro was one of Brazil's most exciting prospects when he played for Sao Paolo. Spanish journalist Marcos López -who worked for Luis Enrique's AS Roma as a scout- admitted this summer that the Italian team had wanted to sign Casemiro. Unfortunately for them, Sao Paulo wanted to get close to 20M€. That's how promising Casemiro was. Yet his career ended up in a downward spiral after some troubles with his church. Those problems affected him and his performances. His commitment to the squad wasn't the same, he put on some weight and he stayed on the bench for most of Sao Paulo's matches.

The scouts over at Real Madrid took the chance and signed Casemiro on a loan deal on January 2013. The midfielder played for Castilla during the second half of the season. He had a hard time adapting to European football and its pace. He was caught out of position quite often and his distribution was usually too slow for Castilla's pace. Still, Casemiro made his debut with the first team against Betis. José Mourinho started him, and Casemiro performed well enough for Real Madrid to pay the 6.5M€ clause that was written on Casemiro's loan deal.

New signing Asier Illarramendi was injured, and Xabi Alonso missed the whole preseason. Furthermore, Ancelotti was trying to build a new midfield, so Casemiro had a chance to impress both the fans and the coaching staff. He scored off set pieces and finished brilliantly against Bournemouth. All things considered, the fans and press alike thought Casemiro was going to be a fairly important piece for Carlo Ancelotti. They were wrong.

But Casemiro has always been faithful about his chances. He has been training during the squad's days off. he's never lost his smile and he will now have to step it up after Khedira's season-ending injury. Ancelotti spoke to the press during the unveiling of his book and admitted that he could change the team's formation. But he could also try to play Casemiro in Khedira's spot, he said.

Casemiro might not have Khedira's experience. That's certain. But he could be a good asset for Carlo Ancelotti in most of La Liga matches. Yes, it would be somewhat crazy to start Casemiro in a Champions League Final. But he should and could be important on the road to that Final. Then, if Real Madrid finally play those key matches, Ancelotti will surely find the way to build a solid midfield without having to start an inexperienced player.

If Casemiro makes the best out of this chance, he might finally be able to live up to the potential he once had back in his hometown club.

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