Fred has a strong chance of being named Manchester United’s player of the season.
The Brazilian has certainly been United’s most improved player, and has become an integral part of the club’s midfield.
But just like Luke Shaw discovered this season through Brandon Williams, being named player of the year would offer no guarantees, not when there are fresh challengers.
In recent months Fred has been a mainstay of United’s midfield, despite it often being a case of four players competing for three spots, with Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes and Nemanja Matic.
When football returns, competition is likely to get tougher in midfield.
Paul Pogba will be fit again and raring to go. His paths to an exit look to be blocked currently, and he will directly compete for Fred’s spot.
New additions and rising stars
The Times reported this week Jack Grealish is likely to sign with United this summer despite his recent off-field transgression.
He could be added to the mix as a creative force to compliment Bruno Fernandes, even if Paul Pogba stays.
And then there are claims United will target Saul Niguez as a Pogba replacement if he is sold, [Mirror], even if the sums of money being discussed seem over the top.
Young stars like James Garner and Dylan Levitt will also be stronger, and keen to seize a midfield spot if given the chance.
There are also suggestions a top defensive midfielder is needed in the Thomas Partey mould.
Fred needs to show he belongs in a dream team
Amid talk of new signings, like Jadon Sancho, and Grealish, Saul Niguez, et al, Fred is frequently left out of potential dream XIs for next season as United plot to try and get back to conquering England and Europe.
Fred is nonetheless a key part of the squad, but he needs to continue to take steps forward to show he should be an absolute first choice in the future, as he is now.
This season injury has meant we have never really seen the answer to the question, who should be United’s preferred trio of Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, Fred, Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba.
Fernandes is a lock, but there’s a real appetite to see Pogba alongside him. This is understandable, but it would be Fred who would lose out if Pogba is selected.
Is he disciplined defensively to displace Matic, or McTominay in a holding midfield spot?
Is he good enough creatively to deserve to be selected ahead of Pogba?
In terms of attitude, application and fitness, Fred has everything Pogba is accused of lacking. But he needs to improve his output on the pitch too in terms of scoring goals.
Recent goals and assists in the Europa League have given us a glimpse of the player United spent £47 million on.
He has been terrific this season, but there’s so much more to come with Fred potentially too. Next season he needs to rise to the challenge and continue to step up.
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