This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Having arrived from Shakhtar in a big-money deal back in the summer of 2018, Fred has spectacularly failed to live up to expectations at Manchester United.
The Brazilian struggled immensely in his first campaign in English football, making just 25 appearances across all competitions, with only 17 of them coming in the Premier League. The 26-year-old found it difficult to break into the United first-team on a regular basis, and there were reports earlier this summer that he could be on his way out of Old Trafford after just one year at the club.
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However, a deal failed to materialise before the end of the transfer deadline, and he remains a United player for now. His start to the current campaign appeared to suggest things were not going to get any better, not even being named in the match-day squad for the first four league games of the season. Since then, the midfielder has featured in every one of the Red Devils’ matches, and has turned himself into a vital part of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side – whether by design or fortune.
His performances have remained unconvincing, and he has received his fair share of criticism for it. But there have been instances in his short time in English football that there is a gifted player just trapped inside of him. Speaking after the Manchester side’s dramatic triumph over PSG in the Champions League, Solskjaer revealed it was a truly seismic moment in Fred’s Old Trafford career.
“That was probably his breakthrough for us. You can see why we signed him. He’s got the mentality of a Brazilian international. He is a Brazilian international. He gets on the ball, no fear, no doubt whatsoever. We played a system today that he used to play at Shakhtar, and that’s why we signed him.”
Some players can fight through periods of low confidence and continue to deliver impressive performances. Fred clearly isn’t one of them, but that shouldn’t mean the Red Devils should simply throw him to the curb. It’s on the United staff to get the best out of him, and prove why they paid in the region of £47m to lure him away from Ukraine.
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His performances in the Europa League this year offer some serious signs of encouragement, so much so, that United fans even took to Twitter to hail their “midfield dictator” following their victory over FC Astana. In two games in the competition, the Brazilian has averaged an incredible 105.5 passes, two shots and 1.5 tackles per game.
It’s that kind of all-action dynamism Fred is capable of. And it’s exactly why United shouldn’t cut their losses on the £47m man just yet.