Brighton and Hove Albion boss Roberto de Zerbi admits he was ‘following’ Fred before Manchester United sold their Premier League veteran to Fenerbahce over the weekend.

Gazzetta dello Sport, while conducting an interview with De Zerbi a few days ago, found themselves picking up a very unexpected exclusive.

Confirmation of Fred’s potential £13 million move to Fenerbahce finally arrived on Sunday, much to the surprise of a coach who admits to keeping tabs on the experienced Brazil international before his five-year spell at Manchester United came to an end.

“Holy ____! Fred is done with Fenerbahce,” a clearly stunned De Zerbi exclaimed as the news filtered through. 

“He was one of the favourites. We (Brighton) were following him.”

Manchester United v Olympique Lyonnais - Pre-Season Friendly
Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Brighton miss out as Manchester United sell Fred

They were not the only ones. Aston Villa showed an interest too, while Fulham reportedly submitted a bid of their own earlier in the window. Fulham boss Marco Silva was spotted in discussions with the former Shakhtar Donetsk ace – who joined Man United for £47 million back in 2018 – after Fred marked his Premier League farewell with a gorgeous assist for Bruno Fernandes on the final day of last term. 

Brighton finished in sixth place last season under De Zerbi.

“Thanks for everything, Manchester United,” Fred wrote on Twitter after five season and over 200 games for the Red Devils.

“Today ends one of the most beautiful stages of my career. I lived the dream of wearing the shirt of one of the biggest clubs in the world. Going through ups and downs, I leave with the conviction that I always gave my best.

“It was five years of a true dream for me and my family. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity.

“Forever a Red!”

Erik ten Hag wants another midfielder

United are still expected to bring in a Sofyan Amrabat, a Ryan Gravenberch or an Amadou Onana as Fred’s replacement. It is understood, however, that Erik ten Hag must raise further funds before landing a new midfielder.

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