Fred to Manchester United: Where will midfielder fit in?

Manchester United have agreed a deal with Shakhtar Donetsk for midfielder Fred – but where will he fit in to Jose Mourinho’s line-up?

The 25-year-old Brazilian had a medical in Manchester on Monday, ahead of sealing a deal that could be worth £52m.

Here, we take a look at what United’s XI may look like with him available…

Fred is renowned as a box-to-box all-action central midfielder. He has previously described his role at Shakhtar as “the conductor” and has both the pace with the ball at his feet and the passing range to drive quick-fire counter-attacks and transitions from defence to attack.

With those skills set alongside his physicality and aggression – he picked up 13 bookings and one red card in 19 appearances last season – Fred would be a powerful presence in United’s midfield. Able to contribute both defensively and in building attacks, he’s been compared to Fernandinho and was reportedly a target for Manchester City in January.

Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred, a transfer target for Manchester United, has been likened to Man City's Fernandinho

With that profile, he would ideally slot into Mourinho’s preferred 4-3-3 formation alongside Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba in the centre of the park. That combination would provide a neat balance to United’s midfield, with holding man Matic flanked by the athletic abilities of Fred and Pogba, who would be charged with affecting the game at both ends of the pitch.

Previously, Mourinho has used Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini and youngster Scott McTominay in this role but is clearly looking for an improved option in that key position. Michael Carrick’s retirement has only heightened the need for another commanding midfield presence.

Alternatively, Mourinho could choose to use Fred in a more conservative role alongside Matic in a two-man defensive midfield screen.

Fred was Shakhtar’s top tackler last season, averaging 2.9 challenges per game in the Champions League, and played in this holding position as part of a 4-2-3-1 formation in both of the Ukraine club’s clashes with Manchester City.

He was the team’s top outfield passer in both of those games, underlining the responsibility he takes for shuttling the ball up the field.

With Fred and Matic in defensive mode, Mourinho would be able to free up four of his attacking talents.

By signing Fred, Mourinho will be bringing in not only a talented midfielder but a player who can allow him tactical flexibility.

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