Brazilian defensive midfielder Casemiro received harsh criticism from some fans earlier in the season, as he did look very tired and had some poor performances. The Real Madrid star has never been known for his ball security when playing it out of the back, but he was usually adequate – just noticeably worse than the all-world passers around him.
As the season went on, Casemiro returned to his former world-class self, and he was also buoyed by Carlo Ancelotti’s correct decision to finally give 2021 summer signing Eduardo Camavinga more minutes. The result was that Casemiro peaked in his quality when his team needed him the most, producing a defensive masterclass in the Champions League Final.
So why is Casemiro under pressure despite being a club legend coming off a positive season? Two words. Aurelien Tchouameni.
Real Madrid are paying more than 80 million euros for the 22-year-old midfielder, who can function as a 6. Los Blancos jumped at the opportunity to sign the Ligue 1 standout, because they knew he was the only conceivable long-term replacement for Casemiro available on the transfer market. But since Tchouameni is already so good – he was Ligue 1’s best midfielder in the 2021/22 season, leading Monaco to a top-four finish – and since the club spent so much to buy him, Tchouameni may not just be a long-term replacement. He could unseat Casemiro this season.
That is easier said than done, so Tchouameni could end up being more of a role player like Camavinga was in his first season in Madrid. Still, Casemiro will feel the pressure of Tchouameni behind him, as Tchouameni is a special player and offers more with the ball at his feet.