Tearful Casemiro: United move not about money

Casemiro has denied that his move from Real Madrid to Manchester United is motivated by money, saying he’s joining “the biggest club in England” and is looking forward to linking up again with Cristiano Ronaldo.

The two clubs announced on Friday that a deal had been agreed in principle, with sources telling ESPN that United would pay an initial £60 million fee with £10m in potential add-ons.

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In a ceremony on Monday attended by Casemiro’s family, club executives, coaching staff and teammates, Madrid paid tribute to a player who has won five Champions League trophies in nine years at the club.

“It’s always difficult when you take such an important decision,” Casemiro said in a news conference. “After the Champions League final [against Liverpool on May 28] I spoke to my agent, I said I felt like my time here was ending… My agent told me to go away on holiday. After a month, we came back and I still felt like that.”

Madrid club president Florentino Perez said: “I never thought this day could come. You have been exemplary every day, and in the moment of your farewell too. That’s why you’ve earned the right to decide your future and we must respect that.”

United turned to Casemiro, 30, as they look to turn around a disastrous start to the Premier League season — losing to Brighton and Brentford — after they were unable to conclude deals for Frenkie de Jong and Adrien Rabiot.

“What I’m looking for is new challenges, new targets, trying a new league and a new country,” Casemiro said. “What I’ve won at Real Madrid is history. Now I have to help Manchester United, where I haven’t won anything.

“The Premier League is a competition I love, that I wanted to play in. The few people who think that [the move is about money] don’t know me. If it was for money I’d have gone four or five years ago…The last thing I’ve thought about is that.”

The Brazil international joined Madrid from Sao Paulo in 2013 and became an indispensable member of the side, anchoring the midfield alongside Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.

He played a key role in a golden era at Madrid, winning three Champions Leagues in a row in 2016, 2017 and 2018, as well as a LaLiga and Champions League double this year.

“Toni [Kroos] wrote to me at 4am asking if it was true that I was going!” Casemiro said. “He’s been ill [with flu], so he wasn’t sleeping. He wrote to me and I replied saying: ‘Hey let me sleep a bit!’ [Kroos and Modric] are my friends. It’s easy to play with those two.”

Casemiro will join more two former teammates — Ronaldo and Raphael Varane — at Old Trafford.

“I’m going to the biggest club in England,” he said. “It’s true we won’t play in the Champions League this year but Manchester United can compete with the greatness of Real Madrid, albeit not right now. I haven’t spoken to Cristiano [Ronaldo], but I’m looking forward to playing with him. He knows what I think of him, he’s one of the greatest players of all time.”

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