Following the 2014-15 campaign which saw Real Madrid look depleted in the second half of the season, it was clear that Los Blancos needed to add depth. That particular team, though offensively one of the best in the world, looked extremely thin in terms of complexity and variety on the bench. With acquisitions based on versatility, functionality, and potential, Madrid now have their most complete squad in recent history.
At this point, additions are mainly required at the left-back, center-forward, and center-mid positions. For the wing back and striker voids, the consensus across the board is that the recruitments should come in as back-ups given Marcelo and Benzema are some of the best players at their respective roles. It's the center of the midfield which is currently occupied by Brazilian enforcer Casemiro which polarizes fans and critics.
Why his presence is even in question baffles me. Arguably Madrid's player of the season, no one can underplay what a TRUE defensive-minded player brings to an attack-oriented team like Real. In the past The Royal Whites have had Fernando Gago, Mamahdou Diarra, Lassana Diarra, Sami Khedira, Nuri Sahin, and more play in the middle of the park only to truly play well in a double-pivot sharing offensive and defensive responsibilities. However, with Casemiro solely focusing on picking up defensive slack, Modric, Kroos, and the wing-backs have license to roam and create.
Critics have pointed out that Casemiro is limited when faced with a high press. But who isn't culpable to being limited to an opponent's physical and exhausting press? Even the best generational midfielders including Xabi Alonso, Xavi Hernandez, and Andrea Pirlo have succumbed to teams who strategize to terrorize the fulcrum of the team. For critics to use that as weight to call for big-name players like Pogba is why Madrid will always suffer from instability.
If the club constantly approaches squad assembly with who's hot at the moment, Madrid will always be acquiring new talent whether it fits into the big picture or not, a situation that Colombian James Rodriguez currently finds himself in. Instead, Madrid should make sporting decisions based on performance as most clubs do, and trust players who have repaid their faith with consistent and reliable outings. This in turn will result in squad growth, loyalty, and unity.
In addition, Madridistas are only looking at one side of the coin that is Casemiro. In some ways, we are looking at a tamed and disciplined mid-field enforcer. When unleashed as seen during his Porto days, the 24-year-old can play as box-to-box midfielder and provide offensive power. He highlighted he can cope with the physical demands and prove to be an asset from dead-ball and aerial situations. The fact of the matter is that Casemiro has made the center-defensive mid his and it is on him to lose his place or not, similar to Keylor Navas when it comes to the topic of David De Gea. We honor Keylor's importance, why choose sides when it comes to Case?
What is overlooked is the baggage that the purchase of a 'world-class' center-defensive mid will bring. Because of a high price-tag and likely high wages, the newly bought player will essentially force his inclusion in every game assuming Florentino Perez does not want another high-earning star sitting on the bench along Isco and James. At the very least, Casemiro will be content rotating with Isco in games where his influence is not needed. It's true there are games where Madrid can runaway with a result, notching multiple goals against weaker opponents. Also, there will be games which require flair, possession, and creativity. This is where an Isco-Casemiro rotation can be vital in a long season full of different rivals.
In Casemiro, I see a loyal, hard-working player with potential to better. To others, he is a feeble-minded brute with limted capabilites. To each is own, but at then end of the day, if Pogba is signed with the intent that he will morph into the world's best center-midfielder in a three-man attack-oriented mid-field, followers may wish they never questioned Real's most dependable defensive player this season. Remember when Bale told fans that Madrid would battle to catch Barcelona on the title race? Yep, he predicted that. On Casemiro, he said, "He's been our Makelele. We know that behind us he is going to fill every hole and tackle everything that moves... He has been great." Let's wait and see how things change after the summer Gareth.