As good as Casemiro! Arsenal right to break transfer record for Caicedo

Sam McGuire
Sam McGuire
  • 31 Jan 2023 07:57 GMT
  • 4 min read
Moises Caicedo, Casemiro

It is easy to forget that Moises Caicedo has just 26 Premier League appearances to his name. The 21-year-old has had a transformative impact on the Brighton midfield following his debut in the English top flight last April.

When he forced his way into Graham Potter’s thinking, the Seagulls had lost six of their last seven in the Premier League. With Caicedo in their starting XI, Brighton won five of their next eight and lost just once - against champions Manchester City. During this run, they defeated Arsenal, West Ham, Spurs and Manchester United - four of the top seven.

This form has continued over into the 2022/23 campaign.

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He’s now won 14 of his 26 Premier League matches, averaging 1.84 points per game. Extrapolate that over an entire season and that is a 70-point campaign. For a little more context here, Brighton’s best-ever Premier League return is 51 points and that was last term.

It is even more remarkable when you consider that these numbers are being posted in a period the Seagulls have lost key players, changed managers and switched their system following Roberto De Zerbi’s appointment. Things have been anything but consistent at the Amex, yet everything about Caicedo has been.

You can understand why the Seagulls have reportedly rejected Arsenal’s £70m bid for Caicedo. Other clubs would’ve accepted such an offer. After all, it would be a club record fee, eclipsing what they banked when they sold Marc Cucurella to Chelsea. Furthermore, the player has publicly stated he wants to leave and, as a result, has been told to stay away from the training ground until after the transfer window closes.

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Caicedo ticks boxes Enzo and Bellingham don't

Brighton could’ve easily accepted the bid and rid themselves of an unhappy player. But in a world in which Enzo Fernandez, a player with just 29 appearances in Europe and zero in a top-five league, is reportedly set to join Chelsea for over £100m, why would you sell on the cheap?

Borussia Dortmund are believed to want £130m for Jude Bellingham. The midfield market favours sellers right now. While Caicedo is yet to do it in European competition, he’s proven to be influential in the Premier League. That is a tick in the box for him that both Fernandez and Bellingham currently do not possess.

And then there’s the Casemiro factor. He too has had a transformative impact following his arrival at Manchester United. His form has seen many United fans claim he is currently the best defensive midfielder in the world. The Red Devils agreed to pay up to £70m for the soon-to-be 31-year-old when they signed him from Real Madrid in the summer.

Caicedo's numbers are every bit as good as Casemiro's

Caicedo's numbers are every bit as good as Casemiro's

He has taken to the rigours of the Premier League like a duck to water. The Brazil international is winning 66% of the aerial duels he competes in, he’s attempting 4.19 tackles on average and winning 46%, while he also stops 65% of the dribbles he comes up against, per FBref. Casemiro also averages 1.63 interceptions for United and, perhaps surprisingly, is involved in 3.26 shot-creating actions per 90.

By comparison, Caicedo has won 70% of his aerial duels this term. He’s involved in fewer tackles but has a higher success rate (48%) while he manages to tackle those looking to dribble past him 73% of the time. The Brighton No.25 also averages 1.5 interceptions per 90 and is involved in 2.13 shot-creating actions.

If Casemiro is worth £70m, a player almost 10 years his junior, who is posting almost identical numbers to him in an inferior team is going to be worth a minimum of that to teams looking to battle it out for the title.

History is littered with teams paying what is considered to be excessive fees for players only for them to make it look like a bargain. Many doubted United’s decision to pay over £60m for Casemiro given he was in his 30s and had never played in England. Plenty ridiculed Liverpool for their decision to spend £75m on Virgil Van Dijk only for him to be integral in them winning everything. Likewise with Alisson Becker.

Caicedo is only going to get better with experience and he’s already dominating the Premier League. Arsenal are likely going to have to break their transfer record to sign him but he could be patrolling the middle third for them for the next decade while being pivotal to their success under Mikel Arteta.