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Man Utd’s woes deepen with Casemiro and Varane ready to pack bags for Saudi Arabia

Manchester United had it coming. 

Heading into the final Champions League group stage round, the Red Devils were in an impossible situation. 

An unlikely home win against Bayern Munich, coupled with a draw between Copenhagen and Galatasaray in the other Group A contest, was United’s only chance of continuing their dreadful European campaign. 

Not only did the Danes eke out a 1-0 win at Parken Stadium, but Erik ten Hag’s side failed to hold up their end of the bargain, slumping to an uneventful 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford.

Even before the kick-off, the writing was on the wall for Man Utd, but a sold-out Theatre of Dreams hoped the team could salvage some pride before signing off. 

Now it’s time to regroup and put forward a sustainable plan to rescue the club from this misery, amplified by last weekend’s embarrassing 3-0 home league loss to Bournemouth. 

Desperate times often call for desperate measures, and changing underachieving personnel, ill-equipped to wear the Man United uniform, becomes an urgent necessity for the club’s resurgence. 

With or without Ten Hag in the dugout, the Red Devils must get rid of the deadwood in January and raise funds to finance much-needed reinforcements. 

Who could depart?

According to The Guardian’s recent report, Man Utd are willing to listen to offers for Casemiro, Raphael Varane, Jadon Sancho, Anthony Martial and Donny van de Beek in the winter transfer window.

In dire need of fresh blood, Ten Hag must generate funds to comply with Financial Fair Play before diving into the market for new acquisitions, with the ex-Real Madrid duo leading the chopping-block contingent. 

Despite their household status in European football, Casemiro and Varane are no longer as dependable as they used to be.

Following an outstanding maiden Premier League campaign, the Brazilian midfielder has failed to maintain the same level of consistency and impact on the field.

Prone to injuries and silly bookings, the 31-year-old has lost Ten Hag’s confidence and is ready to pack his bags in January. 

Likewise, the French centre-back has tumbled down the pecking order after initially impressing at Old Trafford, losing his place in the starting XI to the very man he came to replace, Harry Maguire. 

An emergency crisis at the back forced his return to Ten Hag’s line-up against Bayern, but the 30-year-old’s performance flattered to deceive despite Man Utd only conceding once.

Promised land beckons

Both players are past their prime and on the wrong side of their 30s, albeit by not that much. 

It’s almost impossible to expect Europe’s top clubs to come knocking on United’s door asking about the washed-up duo’s availability, especially considering their hefty salaries. 

With each earning north of £300,000 a week, their astronomical wages have priced them out of most European sides, making them viable targets only for the affluent clubs in the Saudi Pro League.

Man Utd splashed out £60.7 million to sign Casemiro from Madrid in 2022, tying him down to a lucrative long-term contract until 2026. 

Given the circumstances, generating a fraction of that investment would be a success, but the only way to achieve that is to drum up interest from the Middle East. 

Varane’s situation is less complicated. United parted with half of Casemiro’s transfer fee to lure him away from the Santiago Bernabeu in 2021. 

The 30-year-old still has plenty to offer to football, yet his form has dwindled over the past 12 months, making him a natural target for the Saudis. 

Their former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo has been making strides in the desert for almost a year now. Maybe it’s time for a reunion.

Who could come in?

As per recent rumours in Spain, the Red Devils are weighing up an audacious January bid for Barcelona stalwart Ronald Araujo to replace Varane.

The reports add they’re willing to double the 24-year-old’s wages to persuade him to cut ties with the Catalan powerhouse. But that’s a pipe dream. 

Nice’s Jean-Clair Todibo is a more attainable target. However, the French club may be reluctant to discuss the ex-Barca defender’s sale in January amid an unlikely title pursuit in Ligue 1. 

Things could change at the end of the season, especially if Les Aiglons fail to dethrone Paris Saint-Germain at long odds. 

Martin Zubimendi of Real Sociedad seems like the most fitting profile to take Casemiro’s place.

Still only 24, the Spaniard has established himself as one of Europe’s hottest prospects after racking up over 200 appearances for the San Sebastian outfit.

Closely followed by Barcelona in the last transfer window, Zubimendi would command a substantial price tag, but he’s worth every penny.

Since transfers of this magnitude rarely happen in January, Man Unite would likely have to wait until next summer to open talks with Sociedad over their most prized asset.