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In a squad which contained the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Pogba, Jadon Sancho and Bruno Fernandes, few would have predicted Fred to have been arguably United’s standout player last year.
In what was a chaotic year on and off the pitch for United, Fred was one of few players who truly shone for the Red Devils.
His drive and intensity consistently put his teammates to shame, sometimes it even felt like he was running our midfield all by himself.
He also added some goals to his game in what was his most prolific year yet, despite having previously been criticised for extremely poor shooting.
Fred joined United in the summer of 2018 for a £52 million fee, but in his first season he only started 13 matches and made four substitute appearances in the league as he struggled to hit the ground running. Many were sceptical and were convinced that United had been ripped off.
In 2019/20, he started 23 and made six sub appearances in the league in what was a better season both for the team and for Fred personally, albeit still plagued by inconsistencies.
In that season, Fred’s biggest standout moments always seemed to come in the big games for United, impressing in both league fixtures against Manchester City and Liverpool. His energy and willingness to try and move the team forward and make things happen is what made him stand out so much in these games, with players such as Kevin de Bruyne struggling as the Brazilian constantly harassed his opponents.
Fred also had an excellent game in the unfortunate Europa League semi final loss against Sevilla. He had a particularly impressive campaign in the Europa League that year and was unlucky to not make it further.
In 2020/21 he continued to improve, but again had periods of inconsistency which peaked at the FA Cup quarter-final exit against Leicester City, where he was particularly poor.
Many at this stage were convinced that we would be better off selling Fred. One of the midfielder's most admirable traits is his never say die attitude though. This is evident in both his playstyle and his personality, and as mentioned before he ended up going on to be one of the standout players in what was a chaotic 2021/22 season for the club.
Every single year at United he has improved, and next year is going to be the first year he will be under a top quality coach who will play with a set system, the Brazilian has a lot of the qualities to thrive under Erik Ten Hag.
The Dutchman likes his side to press high, and Fred is a pressing machine. He averages quite comfortably the most pressures of anyone in United’s squad, even being too trigger happy sometimes but this is something that Ten Hag can temper with good coaching.
He is eager to engage in defensive actions all over the pitch and this could nicely complement someone like Frenkie de Jong, who United have now made an offer for.
Fred is also a player who is very eager to get on the ball and move it forwards for his side, often looking to split lines with his passes.
Sometimes he can be quite technically erratic, and his ideas may not come off or he may take an awkward touch under pressure and land his side in trouble.
This is understandably very frustrating, but it is a small price to pay for the willingness that the 29-year-old has to get on the ball and drive United up the pitch. He is crucial to the build-up play, whereas other players are not as willing to get involved.
This attitude of Fred’s translates to off the pitch too, where he is an extremely well respected player by his teammates and coaches, even being viewed as a leader by them.
United have made midfield a priority area to target this summer, with the club edging closer to securing Frenkie de Jong and likely to look at other midfield options.
With the departures of key players in Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matić, now more than ever it is crucial that United act to fix the problems in an area that has been weak for over a decade, and Fred can be part of fixing that.
He has shown his quality and his mentality, and now that he finally has a coach that will put in place a system that suits his strengths, we could finally see the Fred that United paid £52 million for fully unleashed.