Manchester United made progress this season and finished 2nd in the Premier League. This was their highest finish since Sir Alex Ferguson retired and it is important that they have a positive summer to build on the current foundations. They have been active in the transfer window in recent years, with big name signings such as Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku arriving at Old Trafford. Jose Mourinho will be keen to make more quality additions as he attempts to win his first league title with the club.
One of their names that has been doing the rounds in the media is Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder, Fred. The Brazilian came close to joining Manchester City earlier this year, but it now looks like Old Trafford is a likely destination for him. The Manchester Evening News reports that United have increased their interest in recent weeks, but the club will face competition from PSG. It could take a fee as high as €60 million to secure the services of the midfielder. This would meet his current release clause.
There is a new breed of central midfielder that has emerged in Europe during recent seasons. They are able to thrive in a number of roles and are very much seen as box-to-box players. Not only can they drive forward with pace and power, but they can create and put in the hard yards when the team doesn’t have possession.
Fred fits into this bracket alongside Naby Keita and N’Golo Kante. This isn’t to say all three are exactly the same profile, but they can perform multiple roles and that makes them valuable to own. Manchester United have lacked balance in their midfield this season. Paul Pogba still hasn’t been able to find his best form and that will be one of the problems that Mourinho will look to address.
In terms of his best attributes, Fred is a lot better as an attacking force. The 25-year-old impressed during the recent Champions League campaign when he made eight appearances. He averaged 1.62 shots and 1.13 chances created per ninety minutes. Meanwhile, he got stuck in and showed he could be aggressive without the ball, as shown by his average of 3.25 ball recoveries per ninety minutes.
The fee may seem a little high, but the finances of football mean that every player will carry a premium, especially when clubs like Manchester United are looking to sign them. Fred’s versatility means that he will be a good midfield option for Mourinho to have at his disposal. He could prove to be the perfect third midfielder alongside Nemanja Matic and Pogba.
Michael Carrick’s retirement and the uncertainty over Marouane Fellaini’s future mean that Manchester United need to be in the market for at least one central midfielder, if not two. Fred has already got experience at the highest level and Shakhtar are a reliable club to buy from. The likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Douglas Costa and Fernandinho have all left for success in bigger leagues.
If Manchester United manage to sign Fred, it would be a good start to the summer and provide them with momentum to push on with. In recent years, they have made big-name signings and it is now important that they supplement the squad with players that mesh well with the stars at the club. The Brazilian international would be a good example of this and signing him should be a high priority.