Manchester United think they’ve got the next Michael Carrick on their hands in the form of James Garner. But they may have already signed the heir to the England international in the form of Fred. The Brazil international has upped his game considerably this season, proving himself to be worthy of his £52million transfer fee.
In the summer of 2018, Manchester United had a nightmare transfer window.
Having finished second in the Premier League under Jose Mourinho the season before, fans were hoping they’d splash the cash in order to continue to close the gap on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
However that didn’t happen with United having arguably their most-underwhelming transfer window in recent history.
Lee Grant arrived on a free transfer from Stoke to provide added competition to David De Gea and Sergio Romero. He’s played just twice for the club since.
Diogo Dalot touched down from Porto but a right-back wasn’t the blockbuster signing many fans were craving.
And then there was Fred.
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It soon appeared he wasn’t cut out for the Premier League.
In just his third game for the club he endured a nightmare evening as Tottenham waltzed to a 3-0 victory over United at Old Trafford, sparking fury from Mourinho in the process.
It was to set the tone for a nightmare first season at the Theatre of Dreams – one where the Samba star struggled to make his mark.
Recently, Fred admitted he had an ‘awful’ and ‘difficult’ campaign – and explained his struggles by saying: ″I believe the first season was very difficult for me.
“There was the process of settling down here, but also other personal things that were happening in my life, such as the birth of my son.
“So I believe it was a mix of reasons that made me have an awful first season.”
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At the start of the current season, Fred’s struggles looked set to continue.
He was under pressure to step up and perform, particularly following the departure of the popular Ander Herrera to Ligue 1 titans PSG.
But, after struggling in a 1-0 defeat to Newcastle, Fred looked destined for the exit door. Gary Neville witheringly claimed that, with the Brazilian and Andreas Pereira in the heart of the side, they had ‘no midfield’.
However, in the time since, Fred has enjoyed a remarkable turnaround.
When it was announced in December that Paul Pogba would be sidelined for a considerable amount of time, many expected United to continue to falter.
But Fred has played a key role in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side’s transformation, proving himself to be a worthy heir to Carrick in the process.
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He’s started to look every bit like the England international, cutting a composed and slick figure in the middle of the park.
Carrick has actually been playing a key role in Fred’s resurgence, with the Brazilian recently saying: “He has helped me a lot in this process of adaptation and transition.
“He’s a guy who was an idol at the club and was a great player in the same position that I play.
“On a daily basis, he helps me a lot, always talking to me.”
As recently as the end of last year, United fans felt they needed another midfielder – an upgrade on Fred.
But his turnaround means that is no longer the case and Solskjaer has been delighted with the 27-year-old’s impressive turnaround.