With Manchester United in advanced talks to sign Fred, we profile the Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder, who is viewed as one of Brazil’s rising stars.
Sky Sports News understands a deal is close to being agreed for Fred, with United looking to wrap up the signature ahead of the World Cup, which starts on June 14.
The 25-year-old, who has also been heavily linked with Manchester City, features in Brazil’s 23-man squad for the tournament in Russia, having played a key role in Shakhtar’s successful title defence in Ukraine.
His impressive displays led Shakhtar CEO Sergei Palkin to tell Corriere dello Sport back in March: “Fred will leave in July, if he does not go to Manchester City, he will go to Manchester United.”
It appears now that United are front-runners to sign Fred, with reports suggesting he could cost in the region of £50m.
But what do we know about the midfielder? We profile the player who has made a big impression in Ukraine and the Champions League…
How has Fred performed this season?
The left-footed playmaker, who joined Shakhtar from Internacional in June 2013, has been a regular starter for the Ukrainian champions this season in all competitions and he produced some eye-catching performances in the Champions League before Paulo Fonseca’s men were knocked out by Roma at the last-16 stage.
Man City boss Pep Guardiola was reportedly impressed with Fred’s individual displays in both matches against Manchester City in the Champions League group stages, and he scored his first goal in the Champions League this season. A stunning free-kick against Roma in the last-16 first leg tie shot his name into the headlines in late February as he showed off his goal-scoring prowess.
Fred in Champions League 2017/18 Games played 8 Goals 1 Assists 1 Tackles per game 2.9 (24th overall) Dribbles per game 2.9 (19th overall) Pass accuracy 85.9% WhoScored.com rating 7.25 Style of play
Fred operates as a box-to-box midfielder for Shakhtar, and has excelled under manager Fonseca, who was linked to a Premier League move himself.
“Fonseca allows me to play both offensively and defensively, and my main task is to change the direction of attacking moves,” Fred told football.ua in September 2016.
“Under [former manager Mircea] Lucescu, forwards and full-backs were responsible for that, but now I am the conductor. Everything had changed completely. The coach trusts me and sees qualities that went unnoticed by Lucescu.”
Fred’s attributes suggest he has the capability of adapting to the rigours of the Premier League. But is his skillset strong enough to slot into the starting XI for one of England’s top four clubs?
“Fred is still less tenacious, aggressive and tactically disciplined compared to Fernandinho,” Ukrainian journalist Ilya Novikov told ESPN FC.
“At times he tends to lose concentration, and doesn’t always backtrack quickly enough after losing the ball, but it is possible to improve in those aspects.
“Fred is very good at moving forward, providing quality through-balls. He feels comfortable under pressure, and his dribbling skills are good for a holding midfielder too.”
Where would Fred fit?
At United, there looks to be a bit more room to manoeuvre as Jose Mourinho has rotated between a number of creative midfielders to play alongside Nemanja Matic without settling on one option. Ander Herrera and Marouane Fellaini have been tested in the box-to-box role while 21-year-old Scott McTominay has been a preferred starter at times.
Then there is the question over the future of Paul Pogba. Should he leave in the summer, that could open up the door for a new central midfielder to be brought in. Furthermore, Michael Carrick is retiring at the end of the season, Daley Blind may well leave and Fellaini has not signed a new deal yet; this should be reason enough among the United hierarchy to introduce a new face.
Meanwhile, with Guardiola regularly playing just one holding midfielder alongside David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne at City, Fred would likely have to contend with Fernandinho and Ilkay Gundogan for a starting spot.
Whether the Premier League champions come in to challenge their city rivals for his signature, remains to be seen.