Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must unleash Fred on Leeds United at Old Trafford on Sunday afternoon if Manchester United are to stop Patrick Bamford from finding the back of the net.
United host Leeds this weekend looking to continue their new-found momentum that includes a draw against Manchester City and a thriller at Sheffield United.
Fred was left out of the past four squads in a row after being sent off against Paris Saint-Germain, but it would be a surprise to not see him be named in the squad to face Leeds at Old Trafford.
In nine games in the Premier League, the 27-year-old is averaging 2.3 tackles and 1.1 interceptions per game, via WhoScored, which suggests that he could be required to do a job against Marcelo Bielsa’s side, who have scored 22 goals in the top flight so far this season.
United have conceded nine goals in their past five games in all competitions, including a brace against Premier League strugglers Sheffield United, so Solskjaer will be hoping to shore up his leaky defence, especially when you consider the fact that Bamford has bagged eight goals in 13 games this season.
While both Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof could be rested for the Pennines derby, Solskjaer must unshackle Fred in a central defensive role alongside Paul Pogba, dropping the Brazilian deeper, which will allow the Frenchman to push forward and cause havoc like he did at Bramall Lane.
Perhaps Maguire will keep his place, but Fred could be the man to stop Bamford, who is surely the danger man ahead of the derby, given his incredible run of form since the start of the season.
But if United can keep the 27-year-old quiet, then they will stand a better chance of beating Bielsa’s side, having thumped Newcastle at Elland Road last time out.
Valued at up to €30m (£26m) via CIES, the former Brazil international has shown that he can be Solskjaer’s trusted man for the big occasion, as he bullied Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League rematch last month.
This kind of aggression and physicality could give United the cutting edge in the midfield, and if he can stick tightly to the two-time England U21 international, he could perhaps starve the supply chain and cause Bielsa all sorts of problems.
If he’s fully fit and firing on all cylinders, he must be one of the first names on the team sheet, that’s for sure.