It hasn’t been the best start to life at Manchester United for Fred. Not only has he failed to make an impact but he is now be rumoured with a move away from the club. The Guardian suspect that it is Fred himself who wants out of United.
With this, we’ve also seen that Manchester City may pip United to the signing of Ajax’s Frenkie de Jong. So in this short analysis we will compare the two to see who would be the better fit at Manchester United.
Player Comparison: Positioning
Firstly, it is important to understand the roles that the midfielders tend to play. How we’ll do this is by observing the positions the pick up most often.
This is important as with Manchester United playing a 4-3-3 35% of the time this season, each midfielder will have a different role. In the players’ heatmaps below we can see they occupy similar spaces which allows us to start comparing them.
Player Comparison: In Attack
The role that the two would be asked to undertake would be the most complete out of the midfield. With Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic, United have relatively defensive and attacking midfielders. To support them, the third midfielder has to be accomplished on both sides of the ball.
So, here’s how Fred and de Jong compare going forward:
Here we see that with the ball, de Jong clearly has a bigger impact. When the ball is at his feet he is just more dangerous as although he’s created just one more chance than Fred, de Jong has made almost double the amount of forward passes. With Mourinho’s side often criticised for not playing enough attacking football, this could help them greatly.
de Jong’s eagerness to get his team forward can also be seen in the amount of take-ons he’s completed.
Player Comparison: Defending
A big part of playing in midfield is what happens when you don’t have the ball. So far this season, this is an area Fred has shown to be a bit rough around the edges. Here are his numbers compared to de Jong’s:
Once again, de Jong is the better performer by far. What we can see from these numbers is that de Jong is much more proactive when defending. This is evident when looking at the number of interceptions and aerial duels he’s racked up.
However, what is most eye-catching is the foul tally. Despite playing less games, Fred has conceded ten more fouls than de Jong. In any league this would be alarming but in the Premier League where the margins for error are minimised season-by-season, this could hinder United significantly.
Looking at the numbers, if United have the chance to snap up de Jong, they should 100% go for it. The signing of Fred in the summer wasn’t very inspiring and its proved to stay that way.