It’s easy to forget that Fred joined Manchester United for £53.1million.
With so many star names failing to make an impact at Old Trafford over the past few years, the Brazilians dismal form has gone under the radar somewhat.
Throughout last season the central midfielder was often omitted from matchday squads, despite being fit.
That theme continued at the start of this season – the former Shakhtar man wasn’t involved in United’s first four games in the Premier League.
Even when he has been offered the chance rediscover the form that earned him the big-money move to England, he has looked poor – he played full games in the EFL Cup and Europa League, and failed to make any meaningful impact.
With Fred playing such a sporadic role in the team, he has been linked with a move to Fiorentina, potentially ending a fruitless year and a half in Manchester.
But after the 26-year-old’s performance against Liverpool today, he has proved that there may yet be a role to play for him in United’s squad.
Fred was not United’s best attacking player, nor was he their best defender, but his work rate across the 90 minutes was second to none.
Playing alongside Scott McTominay in a midfield two, Fred’s running was key to disrupting Liverpool’s game plan, and his battling in the centre of the pitch massively contributed to United’s improved display.
Winning two tackles and making one interception, the defensive aspect of Fred’s game was much improved on his previous games this season.
United’s midfield were on top for spells during the game, much thanks to Fred’s industrious work – the Brazilian was fouled three times (only Sadio Mane was fouled more) as Solskjaer’s men frustrated Liverpool.
Though not a particularly positive statistic, it represented how Fred seemed to be coping better with the physicality of the Premier League – so often last season he was pushed off the ball in dangerous areas, but against Liverpool he protected the ball much more effectively.
This often eased the pressure on United’s defence, and allowed the team to move up the pitch.
Fred was also much improved in the passing department – he completed 91.7% of his passes – no player that played 90 minutes completed more.
To put that into context, the next best passer in the United team was Harry Maguire, who completed just 81.5%.
Furthermore, when compared to his last season at United it highlights an improvement on his typically dire form.
Fred’s average for the whole of last season was 86.3% – including substitute appearances when he could easily complete 100% of his passes.
To achieve such a high passing statistic in game of this magnitude, particularly against a side like Liverpool is no mean feat.
In the closing moments of the game, Fred whipped a left-footed shot inches wide of Allisson’s post.
Had that shot found the net, it would’ve capped possibly Fred’s best performance in a United shirt.
In fairness, this is all relatively speaking – the bar Fred has set is outrageously low, but if he continues to build on positive games such as this, he may yet have a future at United.
Every successful Premier League team includes hard-working, tenacious midfielders which Fred has shown he can be.
His showing today proved he has the passion and fight required to make the grade at Old Trafford.
If he adds some meaningful end product to that desire, he may yet fulfil his price tag, and become the star midfielder United fans thought had signed at the start of last season.