Fred arrived at Manchester United last year for a staggering £52 million. It’s fair to say it took the Brazilian quite a while to find his feet and adapt to the league. The Premier League is obviously levels above the Ukrainian top-flight and it showed with the midfielder. He was struggling to create, suspect defensively and being in and out of the side in 2018/19. The word ‘flop’ was circling around social media and he was underwhelming. But in 2019/20, he’s arrived and is indispensable from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.
Fred – United’s unsung hero
The 26 year old has an excellent this season for Manchester United. In a tumultuous year for the club on and off the pitch, Fred has been outstanding. Without doubt, a front-runner alongside Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Marcus Rashford for the Red Devils’ Player of the Year. Perhaps people who don’t watch him week in week out may not see why United fans are singing praises about the former Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder. On paper, he hasn’t recorded a single goal or assist in the Premier League.
But that’s more because of how poor the rest of the team has been. The inconsistency of players around him and with the likes of Andreas Pereira around him has meant the work done by Fred often goes unnoticed. However, if you watch the Brazilian international regularly, his importance to the midfield becomes more and more obvious.
Paul Pogba has been missed without a doubt. However Fred has stepped up and is showing why he is worth £52 million. Of course you get the out of context clips with wayward free kicks or stray passes make him look awful. Let’s be honest, no player survives those Twitter accounts! Anyway, they can’t take away that he’s been among the best midfielders in the league this season. We’ll explain why:
Fred – Style of Play
When you look at Fred, initially it’s hard to grasp what he’s good at. At 5ft 7, he’s not got a dominant physical presence to be a defensive midfielder. Or command a midfield and win the battle. But at the same time, the Internacional youth product’s technical ability isn’t obvious. By that, I mean he’s not pinging balls around the pitch for fun or firing shots from 35 yards into the top corner. I didn’t understand what he contributed to the midfield at the beginning. But after watching him, I’ve realised how good he is.
The video shows how good the central midfielder’s close control has been. His low centre gravity allows him to turn his man effortlessly before quickly transitioning into an attack. Or in some cases, getting him out of awkward situations. Averaging 1.5 dribbles per game this season, his ability in possession has enabled United to be so quick and dangerous on the counter attack. The speed at which they transitioned with Rashford, Martial and Mason Greenwood earlier this season was in part due to Fred driving the team forward.
The Ukrainian Premier League winner is industrious too. Always running tirelessly up and down the pitch, fighting for the badge. Something the Old Trafford faithful have appreciated in 2019/20. Like most South Americans, he’s tenacious and willing to get stuck in. Fred’s defensive output has been superb this season, averaging an impressive 2.2 tackles and 1.4 interceptions per game. He often cuts out attacks of the opposition, before quickly transitioning into a counter-attack with his aforementioned close control. The Brazilian is the side’s engine room and has done well to protect the defence in the absence of Mctominay, alongside Matic.
Creatively too, Fred has thrived. That may sound strange with no goals and assists this season. Though sometimes things aren’t apparent on face value. The 11 time capped Brazilian is averaging 1.4 key passes per game, a great figure for a box to box midfielder. The video shows his flicks and tricks as well as dangerous runs into the box that often have no one on the end of them. Hence why his goal and assist figures are non-existent.
The underrated midfield engine
Though one criticism of the midfielder is his shooting, which often leaves a lot to be desired. Most shots by Fred from what I’ve seen just don’t look natural or are scuffed. This means he often isn’t the best option when ball falls to his feet from outside of the box. Then again, it’s not a critical part of his game unlike his passing and tackling.
He was the sole creative spark in that midfield for so long and now with Bruno Fernandes, Fred’s quality will hopefully shine through. Fair play to him for turning his career in Manchester around after a difficult first season. It shows a mentality and hunger to get better, for himself and the team. That’s the attitude you want from players playing for Manchester United.
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