Is Fred the player Manchester United need?
By Joe Harker
Manchester United have signed Frederico Rodrigues de Paula Santos, who thankfully prefers to be called Fred. The fee is somewhere in the region of £52 million for the midfielder, who joined Shakhtar Donetsk in 2013 and won six trophies during his time at the club.
He is a left footed player who has won plaudits for his passing ability and creativity, whilst being acknowledged as willing to put in a shift defensively.
Most expect the signing to signal a more regular shift to the 4-3-3 formation, which would see Fred take the right hand side in the line up alongside Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba.
He was Shakhtar's most frequent tackler last season, averaging 2.9 per game. If Pogba is handling the attack and Matic the defence, then Fred could be the player who strikes the balance between them, going forward when the team are attacking and dropping back at other times. The ideal scenario for United is if his arrival means neither player has to handle each job by themselves.
At United one of the main conundrums has been how to get the best out of Pogba, the £89 million midfielder who was signed in Jose Mourinho's first season at the club. He has been the team's most creative player but is often criticised for not consistently delivering top class performances. With each midfield signing or transfer rumour touted as the player to finally get the best from Pogba, Fred is just the latest candidate identified as the solution.
However, asking whether Fred's arrival means getting the best from Pogba may be the wrong question. Instead, the signing of Fred could take some of the strain off the French playmaker and bring about a more balanced midfield. Since Pogba's arrival at United the midfield has relied on him for creativity while others have handled the defensive roles. If Fred is able to "create and destroy" then the team will not be as reliant on Pogba making all the chances.
There are some "red flags" that come with the player. He was given 14 yellow cards and one red in 37 games last season, suggesting that his discipline needs work. He was also hit with a doping ban in 2015, though United will hope those problems are far behind him.
United did need another midfielder or two, particularly with the retirement of Michael Carrick and the likelihood of Marouane Fellaini leaving on a free transfer. However, many believe that Fred will not be the last central player to join the Red Devils this summer. PSG's Marco Verratti would be an eye watering transfer target but ESPN have linked him with a move to Old Trafford.
Fred is just the first bit of business in what the Manchester Evening News expects to be a busy summer. Portuguese right back Diogo Dalot has also been announced, while deals for Juventus left back Alex Sandro and Spurs centre back Toby Alderweireld could also be in the pipeline. A possible move for Gareth Bale is also being reported though the Real Madrid forward would likely cost an astronomical sum.