Manchester United midfielder Fred was a surprise absence from the team’s pre-season opener.
Amid a lack of senior midfielders, Fred was a notable absentee as Manchester United took on Leeds in Oslo.
An official statement from the club read, “Fred’s omission is purely a precaution and because he is managing his workload after returning for training at Carrington last week.”
So the question is, was this a precaution for Fred’s benefit, or for Manchester United’s?
Fred strongly linked with exit
The reason for Fred’s absence look peculiar, considering he was not suffering an injury when the season finished, starting the FA Cup final.
He was left out of the Brazil squad, before returning for day one of the pre-season.
Considering that he did travel to Norway, unlike Donny van de Beek, it was odd to see Fred not involved at all.
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There was no precaution shown for Lisandro Martinez after his metatarsal injury, a player who is a player Erik ten Hag does have plans for.
The theory among United fans is that Fred was simply left out because he has no future at Old Trafford.
The Telegraph reports Fred is up for sale, with Manchester United looking for £20 million for the Brazilian. This would be a loss on the £47 million the club spent to sign the midfielder from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2018.
Fred has been linked with a move to Fulham, while Fabrizio Romano reports he is also wanted in Saudi Arabia.
With Van de Beek omitted too, despite also featuring in full training at Carrington, it looked like manager Erik ten Hag simply wanted to select a midfield with a view to the future.
Fred was not missed
Manchester United selected a three-man midfield of Mason Mount, Kobbie Mainoo and Hannibal as starters against Leeds.
All three made valuable contributions, with Mount praised by Erik ten Hag, and Mainoo hailed by Bruno Fernandes. Hannibal’s contribution was lauded by fans, while MUTV commentators also were blown away by his defensive work.
In the second half Dan Gore and Isak Hansen-Aaroen impressed too, and United are going to benefit from the return of first team regulars Casemiro, Christian Eriksen, Scott McTominay and Bruno Fernandes.
Next pre-season match
Manchester United’s next pre-season game is against Lyon next Wednesday. The returning players are not expected to feature, leaving the same options as against Leeds.
It will be interesting to see if Fred is again left out as a ‘precaution’. Manchester United would not want an injury to scupper his summer exit.