It is two years since Manchester United signed Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk in a £47 million deal.
Two years on the Brazilian midfielder is one of United most dependable midfielders after an impressive season which saw club hero Peter Schmeichel laud him as his favourite player.
But it was not smooth sailing for Fred, who had a slow start in 2018 and failed to win over manager Jose Mourinho as a regular starter.
Even at the start of this season under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer he was just a back-up, before an injury to Paul Pogba gave him a chance to step up in October, and he has grabbed the opportunity.
Fred’s fitness, tenacity, commitment and ability to quickly transition defence into attack has seen him become a fan favourite at Old Trafford over the past few months.
His agent, former Brazil international Gilberto Silva, spoke to The Independent about the circumstances which led to Fred’s slow start.
Silva said: “He was signed with the status of a Brazilian international and joined the club straight after representing our country in the Russia World Cup finals, though he got injured and didn’t play.
“So, there was a huge expectation on him and he had to handle too much information at once amid his move to the most competitive league in the world, which is much tougher than the standards he was used to in Ukraine for the previous five years.
““He had to deal with language barriers, a new culture, his first baby on the way, plus a managerial change. And obviously the lack of matches in sequence did not help him.”
Silva went on to credit Fred for turning it around, praising his willingness to learn, improve, and fight for his spot.
United’s iron man
Fred completed 90 minutes just three times under Jose Mourinho in the Premier League and started back-to-back matches only twice.
After he appeared to make a breakthrough by scoring in United’s draw with Wolves in September 2018, it took another five Premier League games before he was handed another start.
This season Fred has benefitted from the regular playing time, and his selection against Tottenham continued a run of 22 consecutive starts in the Premier League, with three substitute appearances preceding this.
In those 22 league starts, Fred has completed 90 minutes in 20 of them. His fitness has at times been astounding, with his energy levels consistent throughout his appearances.
United’s midfield options are now strengthened with the return of Paul Pogba from injury, and there is a chance Fred’s run of consecutive league starts comes to an end tonight against Sheffield United, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer likely to rotate.
Even if Pogba’s return results in Fred playing a reduced role by comparison between now and the end of the season, the progress he has made in 2019/20 has been considerable.
There is plenty more to come from him, and as he grows in confidence, the attacking side of his game will begin to flourish too.
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