Today marks three years since Manchester United signed Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk.

As per BBC, he cost £47 million and we’ve taken a look at what United got for that outlay during the reign of Jose Mourinho.

The positives

Fred has recovered from a shaky first season at United to establish himself as a regular in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s midfield.

Solskjaer has added energy to the dour, predictable side he inherited from Mourinho and the Brazilian is a key part of that.

The first thing to note is that Fred always gives his all. He has a boundless enthusiasm and wants to hunt and press the ball.

United signed plenty more talented players, even in the post-Fergie era, but not all of them have approached the task of playing for the club with the same heart and desire as Fred.

He also showed great mental strength to bounce back from his maiden campaign and has been one of the key players in a side which is improving under Solskjaer.

Villarreal CF v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League Final
(Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

The negatives

The centre of United’s midfield is a subject of constant debate and it does feel like Solskjaer could upgrade his engine room this summer.

And if a new defensive midfielder did arrive at Old Trafford, Fred’s position would be most at risk.

If this was a truly great United squad, Fred would be a fringe player; hugely professional, and able to do a job for the team but not someone to build around.


When United signed Fred, BBC quoted Mourinho saying: “Fred will complement our other midfielders’ qualities, which we need; his creative brain and passing vision will give us another dimension to our game.”

Three years later and we’re still yet to see that creative brain. He provided just two assists in 48 games last season – both in the Europa League.

Fred has his qualities – pressing, tackling and protecting the defence – but creative passing isn’t one of them.

He’s still too liable to be caught in possession and his passing isn’t reliable enough.

Manchester United v Fulham - Premier League
(Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

Fred has made a success of his move by establishing himself in the side and adding energy on a weekly basis.

But United fans are still waiting for him to develop into the all-round midfielder you’d expect for almost £50 million.

It’s slightly perplexing looking back at Mourinho’s comments now. The Portuguese completely misunderstood Fred’s game.

It seems Fred just isn’t at the level to be a creator for a team of United’s ambitions, and despite all the positives of his spell so far, that remains a frustration.

And ultimately, few United fans would complain if United went into the market again, spending another £50 million to get a midfielder who offers all Fred’s battling qualities as well as a lot more creativity on the ball.

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