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Man United’s phone call involving Fred ahead of Villarreal Champions League clash

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Manchester United’s match against Villarreal on Wednesday night is of huge importance. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have been in poor form of late, with Fred coming under fire as a result. And it’s nights like this where the Brazil international will be judged because, if he fails to perform, criticism is likely to be stinging.

Fred is a maligned figure among United fans.

Some recognise the Brazil international’s tenacity in the middle of the park, whereas others see him as a liability within Solskjaer’s side.

But, regardless of what side of the fence you’re sitting on, this is a player both Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho admired just three years ago.

In 2018, City wanted Fred – believing he’d be ideal to go alongside Fernandinho.

But it was a phone call from Mourinho that ultimately swayed him into moving to United instead, with Le 10 Sport saying he picked up the phone that year to win the race for his signature.

In the end, United got Fred in the door.

Yet, in the years since, the Brazilian has struggled for consistency.

At present, the majority of this United side is perfect. Let’s start with the goalkeeper, for example.

David De Gea appears to be back to his best, with the Spain international enjoying a fine beginning to the current campaign.

A backline of Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Raphael Varane and Luke Shaw is likely to get better and better as the season goes on.

And, up top, Solskjaer is spoiled for choice when it comes to picking from the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Edinson Cavani.

It is only their midfield, really, that makes them vulnerable.

And it’s been clear in recent weeks that Fred has struggled, with the Samba star failing to control that area against opponents such as Southampton, Young Boys and Aston Villa so far.

So, now, it’s time for the real Fred to stand up tall.

If United lose to Villarreal on Wednesday night, their involvement in this term’s Champions League will already be all but over.

They were beaten 2-1 by Young Boys last time out and a second consecutive defeat, certainly, would leave them with a mountain to climb.

But while questions marks have been asked around Fred, they should equally be aimed at Solskjaer as well.

The Norwegian is, after all, the man in charge when it comes to getting the best from his players.

And while he’s significantly improved Fred since taking over nearly three years ago, he’s failed when it comes to the player of late.

This is a player who was wanted by Mourinho and Guardiola.

A player Mourinho deemed was worth the hassle of a personal phone call, believing he could be the Red Devils’ midfield general.

So, now, the onus is on both Solskjaer and Fred himself to show United were right to make such an effort to beat City to his services.

The midfielder recently opened up on his form and admitted he was looking to improve, acknowledging he needs to work ‘every day’ to turn things around.

“I aim to improve and work a lot after training on my passing,” he told Inside United.

“Sometimes turning in the midfield, things more specific to my position.

“As I’ve said before, my objective is to get the ball to the forwards, to always be ready to receive the ball from the centre-backs, receive a pass and have the right body position to control it and find a good pass.

“I aim to improve in this area, this is the most important area to improve and develop in my position.

“I visualise this every day so I look to improve on positioning on the pitch, an additional pass, turns during a game, that’s what I look to work on every day.”

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Rio Ferdinand issues major warning about Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag

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Former centre-back Rio Ferdinand believes it is still too early to judge whether Erik ten Hag is the right man to lead Manchester United back to the top, despite their unquestionable improvement under him this season.

United head into tomorrow’s Manchester derby against City at Old Trafford with the knowledge that a win will lift them to within a point and place of their neighbours in the Premier League table.

The Reds have lost just one of their last 18 matches since being battered 6-3 by City back in October, featuring a current run of eight wins on the bounce.

The Reds, such is the level of progress they have made under Ten Hag this season, are now considered as one of the favourites to qualify for the Champions League for next season.

They have made significant strides in a relatively short space of time and victories over the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur already this season have proven that they are capable of competing in the upper echelons of the table again.

However, despite heading into the second half of the campaign with form in their sails, Ferdinand insists the jury is still out on Ten Hag, despite him reaching 20 wins as United manager quick than any of his predecessors.

“I think it’s too early to say,” said Ferdinand to the Mirror. “We’ve been here with previous managers when it looks like we are onto something.

“We’ve got to be patient and give the man time. I think all the signs are very positive at the moment. He’s come in and seen what is happening, assessed how things are, looked at individuals and looked at the shape of the team.

“These were a bunch of players that were quite low. They were shot to pieces and he’s had to build, not only footballers, but men back up again. He’s had to build a lot of human beings back up and that takes time.

“The fact he’s now talking about qualifying for the Champions League so positively, he can sense a confidence coming back into this team. There’s a consistency of performance from the team that wasn’t there before and the signals and signs are all very promising.

“But they’re still not where they want to be. City are way ahead of where United are. The distance is a bit closer, but it’s still not anywhere near where we want it to be. There’s still work to be done.”

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Manchester United takeover bids ‘expected imminently’ with serious interest in Club

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Manchester United are expecting takeover offers from across the world as they are set to invite bids ahead of ‘mid-February deadline’.

The Telegraph have reported that the club have received ‘serious interest’ from consortiums based in the Middle East, Asia and the United States.

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also weighing up an offer, as the Glazers hope to the sell one of the biggest clubs in the world for over £5billion.

The report also adds that parties who had been interested in taking over Chelsea, before Todd Boehly’s £4.25bn takeover, are set to return with approaches for the Red Devils.

It’s expected that potential investors will go public with their attempts to buy United in the coming weeks with the clock ‘now ticking on a deal’.

Senior United figures will issue a mid February deadline for formal offers in order to help get get the takeover completed before the end of the season.

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Confirmed: Chelsea ready to make late bid to hijack another Arsenal transfer

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Chelsea will make a late attempt to scupper Arsenal’s hopes of finally signing Mikhailo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Gunners have submitted their third bid for the Ukraine international winger and hope an offer of £62m before add-ons, which take the deal closer to £70m, will be enough to break the deadlock between the two clubs.

Chelsea’s interest in the 21-year-old winger was earlier this week described only as ‘exploratory’ but ESPN now claim that Todd Boehly will test the waters and attempt to throw a spanner in the works for the Premier League leaders.

Shakhtar’s technical director Darijo Srna was pictured at Stamford Bridge last week as he watched Chelsea’s defeat against Manchester City and Boehly would have little issue with meeting an asking price which is closer to £88million.

Arsenal are said to be confident that their latest bid for Mudryk will be enough to finally secure the services of their No.1 January target, but have already been beaten to the punch once this month by their west London rivals.

Chelsea won the race to sign Joao Felix on loan from Atletico Madrid amid competition from Arsenal and Manchester United, but the Portugal international’s promising debut ended in devastating fashion when he was sent off just shy of the hour mark for a dangerous challenge on Fulham’s Kenny Tete.

Felix will now miss the next three games through suspension as the problems mount for Chelsea’s under-fire manager Graham Potter.

‘It sums up where we are at the moment – everything that can go wrong, is going wrong,’ Potter said after Chelsea’s 2-1 west London derby defeat.

‘It was a forward’s tackle from Joao, there was no malice in it but I understand why it was a red. It is another blow the hits keep coming at the moment.

‘He was really good you could see his quality in the game so it is doubly disappointing for us because he was looking dangerous throughout.

‘I don’t think there was too much malice in it and it is an unfortunate action and we are going to lose him now for three games.’

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