Fred: The Man City and Man Utd target dubbed 'the new Fernandinho'
By James Kilpatrick
Last Updated: 18/04/18 10:09am
We profile Brazil's rising star who looks to be following in the footsteps of his compatriot Fernandinho.
Shakhtar Donetsk's Fred is strongly linked to a Premier League move this summer with Manchester United and Premier League champions Manchester City appearing to be the front-runners for the 25-year-old's signature.
Shakhtar CEO Sergei Palkin told Corriere dello Sport in March: "Fred will leave in July, if he does not go to Manchester City, he will go to Manchester United."
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 at the last-16 stage.
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.
Domestically, Fred has scored twice in the Ukrainian Premier League this campaign in 21 league appearances.
Style of play
Fred operates as a box-to-box midfielder for the Ukrainian league leaders 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 straight into the starting XI for one of England's top four clubs or does he still have some work to do?
"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."
Which club would he suit?
Manchester City and Manchester United appear to be the main pair tussling for Fred's signature, and he could command a transfer fee of around £40m.
Former Arsenal midfielder Gilberto Silva is an advisor and mentor to the highly-talented Brazilian and confirmed last month there is interest from the English top flight in Fred.
He told Sky Sports' The Debate: "At the moment we are open for the market and, when you see the whole market in football, the Premier League is one of the targets.
"We had inquiries for him in the last transfer window, but it didn't happen. The Premier League is his preferred destination."
With Pep Guardiola's tendency to play just one holding midfielder alongside David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne, Fred would likely have to contend with the highly-experienced Fernandinho and Ilkay Gundogan to force his way into the Manchester City team.
However, at Manchester 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's 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.
Either way, it doesn't look like Fred will be short of options this summer.