It has been widely reported that Manchester United are set to complete the signing of Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred early this week. The 25-year-old is believed to have had his medical at Old Trafford on Monday ahead of a move said to be worth in the region of £52 million.
The Brazilian midfielder featured for his country against Croatia on Sunday afternoon at Anfield, as they secured a 2-0 win in one of their warm-up games for the 2018 World Cup which is just around the corner. He now looks set to become José Mourinho’s first signing of the summer.
But how will he fit into Manchester United’s starting line-up?
Will Mourinho play him alongside Matić and Pogba?
The most likely way that Mourinho will fit Fred into his starting line-up is by playing him alongside both Nemanja Matić and Paul Pogba in a 4-3-3 formation. Both Matić and Pogba are very calm players in midfield, but by adding Fred into the mix, it will help add tempo to United’s play in the middle of the park which is something they lacked at times last season.
Fred has been heavily linked with a move to United over the last few months, and it is no surprise that Mourinho has been looking to add that sort of midfielder to his squad. He is not a typical holding midfielder such as Matić, as he has the ability to move forward with the ball at pace. These sort of quick transitions through midfield did not happen enough at United last season, as the midfield tended to slow play down which resulted in potential opportunities being wasted.
Could Pogba be dropped to accommodate Fred?
Alternatively, Mourinho may opt to utilise a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Fred and Matić as the two holding midfielders. This would be a more conservative approach than the 4-3-3 option but could be a good way for United to set-up away from home against some of the more threatening teams. Mourinho has shown in the past that he does often set up defensively against some of the better teams, such as when Manchester United drew 0-0 against Liverpool at Anfield last season. This would mean that Pogba would find himself out of the starting line-up, something which was quite often the case last season anyway due to his poor performances.
Some Manchester United supporters may be concerned that Fred will take a considerable amount of time to settle into life in the Premier League. However, he has won the league title with Shakhtar Donetsk in the last two years which goes to show that he is a player that is used to winning. He is also only 5ft 6, which may come as a surprise to some due to the fact that Mourinho usually targets more physical players with height and strength. However, Fred is a player that offers something different to anyone else in United’s squad and will give their midfield a better balance.
However Mourinho decides to utilise the 25-year-old midfielder, he appears to be a very astute addition to United’s squad ahead of the 2018/19 campaign. Manchester United will now turn their attention to getting a deal finalised for 19-year-old Porto full-back Diogo Dalot.