Erik ten Hag has told a press conference he is very pleased with the performances he has seen from Fred during the early stages of pre-season.

Fred has started all three pre-season games to date and is expected to start Manchester United’s first game of the season in a fortnight’s time.

Ten Hag also described Fred’s role in the team as a ‘connector’, helping to link defence and attack.

The United boss was quoted by The MEN speaking at a press conference in Perth ahead of United’s final match in the southern hemisphere, against Aston Villa on Saturday.

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Ten Hag praises Fred’s performances in ‘connector’ role

Ten Hag explained: “In the moment he is playing in the role as connecter, defending to offence. He is playing it quite well, I am satisfied with his performance.

“I think he can even be better. I will support him in that. He also brings energy in the team by his attitude.”

Ten Hag’s praise is particularly intriguing because this is a role widely believed to have been earmarked for number one transfer target Frenkie de Jong.

Last month Marca reported that Ten Hag had promised De Jong he would have the pivotal midfield role, reporting “He has told him that the whole game will revolve around him, being the reference in midfield. His place is assured and with the honours of being the conductor of the new project at Old Trafford.”

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Ten Hag recently told a press conference that while he was keen on De Jong, he is prepared to develop an alternative in the squad if he is unable to land him.

He was quoted by The Guardian: “There are not many in that position capable of the level we demand. When we can’t find him, we have to deal with the players in our squad now and we will develop one in that position.”

De Jong is currently on tour with Barcelona in America amid a stand-off as he looks to stay at the club who are seeking to sell him. It feels like United’s chances of signing him have decreased over the past fortnight.

Turning Fred into De Jong may seem like turning water into wine, and United fans will have to hope Ten Hag really is a miracle worker. A huge project is ahead to turn the club around and Ten Hag is embracing the challenge.

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