Carlo Ancelotti took advantage of the press conference on Saturday, prior to Elche’s visit to the Santiago Bernabéu, to make a public declaration of love for Casemiro, the hardest-to-replace footballer in the Madrid squad. He rested against Elche in the Cup and his place went to Camavinga, with similar physical abilities, although without much tactical sense; Valverde has also played there, who in such a rigid position loses his best quality, deployment in quick transitions; and Kroos, always brilliant with the ball, much less present without it. There is only one Casemiro, and Ancelotti knows it.
“If we are going to look (in the market) for a copy of Casemiro, we will be wrong. There is none in world football. He is unique. But other players can play as a pivot. Camavinga played, who has other characteristics. He comes out well with the ball, although he doesn’t have the tactical ability of Casemiro. I’ve never had a pivot like him. I had Pirlo (at Milan), who had different characteristics. You have to adapt to what you have”, explained Carletto, in relation to whether Madrid plans to reinforce himself in that position in the summer.
The reality is that the club does scan the market in search of profiles similar to Casemiro to download minutes and exhaustion to the Brazilian. AS has already reported that one of the best places is Kessié, from Milan, whose contract is ending and could come for free. And in the quarry is Antonio Blanco, with a very similar profile, although so far Ancelotti has shown little preference for the Cordovan: he has given him only 36 minutes in two games. The arrival of Camavinga discouraged Blanco, who saw how his options to play faded, but the reality is that Casemiro’s rotation is scarce: He accumulates 2,421 minutes, he is the fifth most used player by Ancelotti and to that we must add the calls with Brazil, where he is a regular for Tité.
Ancelotti has ended up devoted to the virtues of Casemiro, and that in his first stage as coach of Real Madrid he hardly gave him opportunities. In the 2013-14 season, the Brazilian was the fourth positional midfielder in the squad, behind Xabi Alonso, Illarramendi and Khedira. He barely played 657 minutes throughout the course, although he left his mark on Dortmund, in the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinals, leaving with 2-0 on the scoreboard (Madrid had won 3-0 in the first leg) to tie the classification. In the Lisbon final, without Xabi Alonso (sanctioned), Ancelotti pulled in a Khedira fresh from a long injury. Casemiro ended up going to Porto to enjoy minutes and continuity; he would return only a year later, already under the orders of Rafa Benítez.
No rancor between Ancelotti and Casemiro
Despite that experience, there is no rancor between the two players. On the contrary, the admiration is mutual, as Ancelotti’s words testify, also those that Casemiro dedicated to him before the Madrid-Inter Champions League: “Without a doubt, when you hear from a man who has been in football for 40 years who speaks well of everything you do on the pitch, you get very happy. He is a football man. He is a very close coach, I admire him a lot. In the first stage, you had to see which players were: Xabi Alonso, Khedira… I’ve learned a lot with him. He talked to me a lot, he always told me he was going to play for Madrid. When you talk about a football icon like Ancelotti and he says things like that to you, it makes you happy. I thank you.”
In fact, Casemiro has detected novelties in Carletto compared to his first stage, a studious character in the Italian coach that also attracts the Brazilian. Not surprisingly, Ancelotti played in the same position during his active years. “I was very surprised, him and the coaching staff. They really want to win, to show that they are top. The desire they transmit in training, in matches, the desire to want to win, how they prepare for matches… After so many years, you would think that they would relax, but they suffer more than us, they are more attentive than us.”, analyzed the white ’14’.
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Ancelotti only wants Casemiro