Now, 20 months on from his arrival, and having already surpassed last term’s appearances total this time around, the statistics bear out the picture of a player clearly on the ascendancy. Better pass completion, more chance creation, more dribbles and completion, more interceptions and more clearances simply spell out a better, more functional player.
Off the field, too, he is more settled. Fred admits: “Diogo [Dalot] and Andreas [Pereira] are the two that help me every day with the language and I have good chats with them, so they’re my best friends at the club,” while he has put his improving English to good use as he explores his new surroundings. “I’m an inquisitive guy,” he continues. “I like to check things out, go to parks, restaurants, travel around by car and check out places I haven’t been to before, and I’ve already discovered many things in Manchester and around the UK that I really like. When I had time I went by car to Wales as it’s nearby, and I also drove to London. I think Manchester is a great city, the UK is a great place and I’m settling in well here and really enjoying myself.”
Those adventures have taken on an added dimension with Fred’s first born son, Benjamin, joining the midfielder and his wife, Monique, just over a year ago. The new perspective on life that accompanies parenthood has had a deep and profound effect on the Reds’ no.17.
“For me, family is everything and it is completely linked to football,” he says. “Through football I’ve been able to help out my family, so it has all come together and it all fits together. Fatherhood is another stage in my life. It’s an important step I’ve taken; a big responsibility, but Benjamin brings me only joy.
“It helps that so many of the lads in the dressing room have had kids. We’re always talking about them among ourselves, discussing what it’s like at home with our families, how all our kids are getting on, and it’s nice for us all to be doing it at the same time.”