Fred: Our Brazilian newcomer's story so far
In the signing of Fred, Manchester United have acquired the services of one of Brazilian football’s rising stars and hottest properties.
The Reds have landed the left-footed playmaker – who, at the age of 25, is still yet to reach his peak and has many years ahead of him.
United boss Jose Mourinho will be delighted to have snapped up Fred, who is currently away at the World Cup finals with Brazil.
The Belo Horizonte-born star becomes the Reds’ second signing of the summer, on the back of playing a key role in Shakhtar Donetsk’s successful title defence in Ukraine.
But he arguably reserved his most impressive displays in 2017/18 for the UEFA Champions League, in which he came up against United’s cross-city rivals Manchester City during the group stage and was instrumental in bringing an end to a long unbeaten run at the start of the season for Pep Guardiola’s side.
Fred also demonstrated his goalscoring prowess in the knockout stages of Europe’s elite competition, making the headlines after scoring a stunning free-kick as Shakhtar beat Roma 2-1 in a Round-of-16 first-leg tie.
But it ended up in disappointment for Fred and his team-mates as their Italian opponents advanced to the quarter-finals on away goals, following a 1-0 home win in the second leg.
Nevertheless, the sharp exit from the competition didn’t take the gloss off another strong season for Shakhtar and Fred on a personal level, as the box-to-box midfielder produced some eye-catching performances for the Ukrainian champions and excelled as the orchestrator of Paulo Fonseca’s team.
Silverware has been a consistent theme throughout Fred’s career, which started at Atletico Mineiro in his native Brazil in 2003 before he left, six years later, to spend a single season at Porto Alegre.
His rise into professional football really took off when he made the switch to Internacional in 2010, where he came through the youth ranks to establish himself as a vital first-team player.
During his successful two-year spell at Estádio Beira-Rio, the dynamic midfielder won back-to-back local state championships, as well as the Recopa Sudamericana, and scored eight goals in 55 appearances.
His influential performances had attracted the attention of a number of European clubs and Shakhtar Donetsk came calling in 2013.
Likened to fellow countryman and former Shakhtar midfielder Fernandinho, now of Manchester City, Fred wasted no time in making an impact in Ukraine and netted twice on his competitive debut in a 3-1 win over Chornomorets Odesa.
Not to be confused with his namesake and fellow Brazilian, a 34-year-old striker who currently plays for Cruzeiro, Fred – whose full name is Frederico Rodrigues de Paula Santos – stamped his authority on the team and became a huge hit with the Shakhtar fans, as well as back in his home country.
He has already had a brief experience of playing at Old Trafford, with Shakhtar Donetsk in a Champions League group game against United, who won 1-0 thanks to a Phil Jones goal in December 2013.
After Brazil crashed out of the World Cup on home soil in the summer of 2014 following a disastrous 7-1 semi-final defeat against eventual winners Germany, Fred made his international debut later that year and was called up for the 2015 Copa America.
He started the final two group games as they reached the quarter-finals, where a surprise defeat by Paraguay ended their hopes of winning the tournament in Chile.
Fred continued to develop into a well-rounded midfielder who has been on the radar of a Europe’s top teams for many years.
After five eventful, but successful, seasons, he bid farewell to Shakhtar to join United having scored 14 goals in 156 games and won 10 major trophies – three Ukrainian Premier League titles, three Ukrainian Cups and four Ukrainian Super Cups – as well as gaining valuable European experience in both the Champions League and Europa League.
An excellent dribbler and gifted passer with both feet, who is calm on the ball under pressure, Fred has all the attributes desired in a modern central midfielder and will help to fill the void left by Michael Carrick, who hung up his boots at the end of 2017/18 to join Mourinho’s coaching staff.
After featuring as a second-half substitute in Brazil’s 2-0 friendly win over Croatia at Anfield at the start of June, Fred could yet prove to be a key player for the Selecao at the 2018 World Cup, having fought off stiff competition to be named in coach Tite’s final 23-man squad for the tournament in Russia. He was an unused substitute in the 1-1 draw with Switzerland in their Group E opener in Rostov-on-Don last Sunday.
Fred will be hoping to fulfil his dreams of lifting the greatest trophy in world football this summer before settling into his new surroundings at the Theatre of Dreams, which should be the perfect stage for the South American to showcase his talents and prove he has what it takes to become a top United player.