Manchester United’s trip to Barcelona on Thursday evening will not be missed by many and speaking ahead of the game, left-back Luke Shaw has named one of his teammates as one of the most important players in the squad.
Erik ten Hag’s men will face the Catalan giants in the round-of-32 play-off round after finishing second in their group, with Barcelona dropping down from the Champions League group stages.
Both teams will be without key players but United will be welcoming back one of the linchpins under Ten Hag, as Casemiro returns after missing the last two Premier League games through suspension.
The Brazil international has not played since he was dismissed against Crystal Palace in the Premier League but he is now almost certain to start against the La Liga leaders.
Speaking ahead of the game, the 30-year-old has been hailed as an ‘extremely important’ player by Shaw, who himself is enjoying quite the season.
“I think it’s been quite obvious to see how important he is to the team when he’s not been playing,” Shaw is quoted as saying by the official Manchester United website.
“For us as defenders, he gives us that feeling that we know there’s a lot of security, especially because of his positioning, where he always is.
“He loves to win the ball back and tackle. We always say to him that he likes to give the ball away so he can go and win it back!
“I think he’s an extremely important player for us and I’m very happy to have him back tomorrow night because, like I said, he’s been a big miss for us.”
United were criticised for signing Casemiro after spending most of the summer pursuing a deal for Frenkie de Jong but in the end, Ten Hag’s insistence on signing the former Real Madrid star has been vindicated.
Casemiro, alongside Christian Eriksen, has completely transformed United’s midfield and their dependence on him is clear for everyone to see already.
Casemiro is likely to be partnered by fellow Brazilian international Fred against Barcelona, with Scott McTominay, Marcel Sabitzer and Eriksen all unavailable.