LONDON: Brazil midfielder Fred has agreed to join Manchester City, with negotiations between the Premier League club and Shakhtar Donetsk now centered upon the timing of the transfer. Pep Guardiola wants to add the 24-year-old to his squad for the remainder of a season in which City are still competing on four fronts. Shakhtar’s preference is to retain a player who has been fundamental to their progress in the Champions League until the summer before switching his registration.
Manchester United also explored the possibility of bringing Fred to England in the current transfer window as Jose Mourinho sought to restructure a midfield that has been persistently weakened by player unavailability this season. Unlike their successful head-to-head battle to sign Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal, however, United have accepted that the versatile midfielder is destined for their rivals.
Part of the Shakhtar team which inflicted the first defeat of City’s stellar campaign in a December Champions League group game, Fred is expected to share duties as a link between Guardiola’s defense and attack with Fernandinho. The Brazilian can also operate further forward in City’s 4-1-2-3 system, covering the positions normally filled by David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne.
A senior Shakhtar source expects the club to receive a fee in the region of €40 million ($48 million) from City. The Ukrainian champions have been attempting to secure a replacement for Fred, with Dinamo Zagreb teenager Nikola Moro a candidate for the role.
City’s expenditure on Fred follows significant investments in upgrading and extending the contracts of Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi until the summer of 2020 and 2021 respectively. The Abu Dhabi-owned club also lengthened Silva’s contract until 2020 at the end of November and is about to tie De Bruyne to a new deal that will make him its best-paid
player at the club.
With all of Guardiola’s first-choice midfield secured to long-term deals that include unusually large performance-related bonuses, City will move on to improving the financial terms of the Catalan’s preferred forward trio — Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sane. The degree of expenditure on new deals coupled with the 29 Premier League goals contributed by those three attackers is related to the decision to allow Sanchez to join United.
Although City agreed to give Sanchez (pictured above) their top salary in order to sign the Chile international from Arsenal in the summer, also committing to pay a transfer fee of £55 million ($76 million) plus £5 million of variables to the London club, that deadline-day switch fell through. When Arsenal reduced their asking price to £35 million in the January window Sanchez’s representatives asked that the differential on transfer fee be paid to the player.
City refused, allowing United to bring the forward to Old Trafford.
Manchester’s best-supported club was able to secure Sanchez without paying a transfer fee, sending the out-of-favor Henrikh Mkhitaryan – who turned 29 on Sunday — to Arsenal instead.
“We have tried to find the best possible solution,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. “And the best possible solution is that we lose a world-class player, I don’t deny that at all, but we did not lose him without getting somebody after. The future will tell if it was the right decision or not.
“I cannot understand anybody wanting to leave Arsenal. But in 30 years of doing transfers, you learn a lot about human beings. As a professional, it was perhaps his last contract at the top level and an important contract. We did what we tried to do and went as far as we could. Even Manchester City moved out of it in the end. That tells you we had no chance to give him a contract.”