The Brazilian has struggled since leaving Shakhtar Donetsk in a £52million deal in the summer of 2018, with his first-team opportunities limited under both Mourinho and successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
In the final six Premier League games of Mourinho’s tenure, Fred played just once – 17 minutes against Fulham – while he has only started eight league games under Solskjaer.
The likes of Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira have been preferred to Fred and he has only made one start in the Premier League this season as a result, in last Sunday’s 1-0 defeat away to Newcastle.
United’s decision to spend so much on Fred has been heavily criticised, though The Athletic claim Mourinho never wanted him in the first place.
The Portuguese coach endured a frustrating summer transfer window, denied the centre-back signing he had made a priority, and was left with just Fred, Diogo Dalot and backup keeper Lee Grant.
Although Mourinho had the power to veto signings, he sensed a lack of backing from the club’s hierarchy and only agreed to sign Fred because he felt he would not receive a new midfielder at all if he turned his nose up at the Brazilian.
The Athletic‘s report also claims that Mourinho changed his mind suddenly on a host of pre-agreed targets at the tail-end of the 2017-18 season, which partly accounted for the lack of backing.
Fred has failed to pull up any trees under Solskjaer, with the Norwegian saying of the midfielder over the summer: ‘Well, I think you’re not surprised when a player who has played in Ukraine finds it a little bit hard in the beginning. But we know the talent is there.
‘We’ve seen, towards the end of [last] season, what Fred can give us: the PSG game, the Arsenal and Man City games. And, of course, he’s one that we hope is going to take another step this season. Hopefully, missing 10 days of our pre-season [to get married] won’t set him back too much.’