Sunday 19 August 2018

Manchester United closing in on their first major signing of the summer

Shakhtar Donetsk's Fred is wanted by Manchester United (Mike Egerton/Empics)
Shakhtar Donetsk's Fred is wanted by Manchester United (Mike Egerton/Empics)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Manchester United are hoping to wrap up the signing of Brazilian attacking star Fred as early as next week, with the player due to arrive in the UK to finalise his move to Old Trafford.

Shakhtar Donesk and United have been haggling over an asking price for one of Jose Mourinho’s top transfer targets in recent weeks, but a fee of around £50m is believed to have been agreed ahead of a move that Old Trafford chiefs want to complete ahead of the World Cup finals.

Fred has been included in the Brazil squad for the tournament in Russia and will be flying to England next week to play in a warm-up game against Croatia at Anfield, with United hoping to finalise their move to sign the 25-year-old when he arrives in the north west of England with his international colleagues.

Former Arsenal midfielder Gilberto Silva is now working as Fred’s agent and he has confirmed that a move to England is appealing to his client.

“At the moment we are open for the market and, when you see the whole market in football, the Premier League is one of the targets,” he confirmed last month.

“We had inquiries for him in the last transfer window, but it didn’t happen. The Premier League is his preferred destination.

“I’ve been telling him to just concentrate on his job. That’s what he needs to do. Where he plays now, the chance will come.

“It’s about not losing his focus. It’s so easy to get lost. You hear all the time some rumours, and sometimes you’re not sure, and you get lost in all the messages.”

United insiders have confirmed that Fred is close to becoming Mourinho’s first big signing of what is expected to be a hectic few months of transfer activity, with a host of players set to leave Old Trafford as new faces arrive to revitalise a squad that faltered in recent months.

Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld is also reported to be on United’s wanted list, with defenders Luke Shaw and Matteo Darmian, midfielders Juan Mata and Marouane Fellani, as well as forward Anthony Martial all tipped to leave this summer.

Shakhtar Donetsk president Rinat Akhmetov has confirmed that his club are preparing to sell Fred, after they rejected a big offer for his services from Manchester City last summer.

“We’ll get exactly the amount he costs,” Akhmetov told the Shakhtar website. ”This will be a market price, the fair price, and it will be beneficial both for the club inviting Fred and for us. That is, I can somewhat feel that Fred will be more expensive than Fernandinho and Teixeira.

“If Fred won Brazil caps and go to the World Cup, this indicates that Shakhtar has gathered a very strong and quality player. We will sell Fred to a good and strong club, do not doubt it. For how much? I cannot say so now.

“You know that we had negotiations with Manchester City this winter and there was an official offer, a very big figure. They offered us around €50m for Fred. And we had enough strength to reject it.”

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