Exclusive: Manchester United make progress on Fred transfer as part of Jose Mourinho's rebuild

Jose Mourinho wants to make Fred one of Man United’s big summer signings.
Jose Mourinho wants to make Fred one of Man United’s big summer signings.

Manchester United are working on a deal to make Brazil international Fred a central component of their close-season rebuild. The English Premier League club is understood to have proposed contractual terms to the central midfielder, who is awaiting the end of the Ukrainian campaign to negotiate an exit from Shakhtar Donetsk.

Regarded by many observers as the key figure in a Shakhtar side that has just secured back-to-back Ukrainian Premier League and Cup doubles, Fred is keen to develop his career at one of western Europe’s leading clubs. Following approaches from both Manchester clubs, the 25-year-old is hoping to secure a “respectful and professional” departure in which Shakhtar reward his contribution to their colours by discounting a €60million release clause.

Manchester City came close to securing Fred’s signature in the January transfer window, only for Shakhtar to refuse to compromise on the price of a player they wanted to retain for the Champions League knock-out phase. While City have also prioritised midfield reinforcement as they prepare to defend a Premier League title won with a record 100 points and retain an interest in Fred, the English champions regard Napoli’s Italy international Jorginho as an alternative option.

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Shakhtar – who have specialised in taking and developing elite talents from Brazilian football before selling them on to Europe’s most moneyed clubs – signed Fred from Internacional in 2013 for a transfer fee of €15m. The Belo Horizonte-born midfielder has since played seven full Brazil internationals and was named this week in Tite’s 23-man World Cup squad.

The Ukrainian league season concludes this weekend after which Fred’s representatives intend to discuss Shakhtar’s conditions for a transfer. According to a close friend, the player’s preference is to move to England, with no approach to date from Paris Saint-Germain.

Jose Mourinho wants to sign at least one central midfielder to replace the retiring Michael Carrick, with a second required should United fail to agree a new contract with Marouane Fellaini. The Old Trafford boss is in the market for as many as four new defenders and would prefer to move on a number of high-salaried fringe players, including Daley Blind, Matteo Darmian and Luke Shaw.

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 Jose Mourinho will miss his assistant Rui Faria
 Jose Mourinho will miss his assistant Rui Faria

“How many points separate us from Manchester City?” said Mourinho last week. “Not two, three or four. A lot of points. Some of the people we have, they have to be more consistent in their performance; and we need more quality. I trust some more than others that can bridge that gap.

“That’s normal. I know the players. I worked with the players for a couple of years. I know them better than anyone. And of course, some of the players I am totally convinced are going to make it, some others I have good hopes that they are going to make it, and some others I don’t believe they are going to make it.”

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