Ancelotti says midfielder Casemiro about to leave Madrid
Casemiro is about to put an end to his successful stint with Real Madrid to reportedly join Manchester United, leaving the Spanish powerhouse without one of its main midfield anchors of the last decade.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said Friday that Casemiro was in negotiations for a move and a deal was imminent, though he didn't specifically mention United.
He said he spoke with Casemiro and felt “there was no way back,”
“He wants to try a new challenge, a new opportunity,” Ancelotti said in a news conference. “The club understands. With all he's done for this club and the person he is, we have to respect it. There are talks right now, he's still a Real Madrid player at this stage, but he wants to leave.”
Ancelotti said he didn't try to change Casemiro's mind about leaving.
“I haven't tried to convince him, I just listened, because I have spoken to Casemiro throughout my time here and he has helped us so much,” Ancelotti said. “Having heard what he wants, there's no way back. If he doesn't stay, we'll have an enormous sense of gratitude to him for all he's done.”
The 30-year-old Casemiro has been with Madrid since 2013 and is regarded as one of the world's best holding midfielders. Madrid's midfield has been one of the best in the world in recent years with Casemiro playing alongside Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.
Casemiro helped the club win five Champions League titles and three Spanish leagues, among several other trophies.
Ancelotti said Madrid would have replacements for Casemiro, though, including young France midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, who was signed in the offseason. The club has other players who could fill in as well, including Federico Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga, Dani Ceballos and even David Alaba, a defender who can play in midfield if needed.
“Tchouameni was signed for this position and he's one of the best central midfielders on the market right now,” Ancelotti said. “Then we've got Kroos, who can play in that position too, just like he did in my second year here, and there's Camavinga as well.”
Ancelotti said the six midfielders he still has in the squad would be “enough to negotiate the season.”
“They are six top quality players,” the coach said.
Ancelotti said Madrid's targets will remain the same despite Casemiro's departure.
“Real Madrid's plans don't change,” he said. “Our plans are to fight and compete in every competition, which we will do with or without Casemiro. That said, everyone is well aware of how important the player is and how much we love him.”
Madrid won the Champions League, the Spanish league and the Spanish Super Cup last season. It opened this season by winning the UEFA Super Cup.
United, which has lost its opening two games of the Premier League season, has been in the market for a central midfielder since the transfer window opened.
Casemiro would join former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo at United, although the Portugal forward's future at the English club is still in doubt.
AP Sports Writer Steve Douglas contributed to this report.