Fred gives audition for new Manchester United role

 Man Utd will have eyes on Fred as he features for Brazil in the Copa America this summer

The European Championship might have taken centre stage over the weekend, but it is not the only major international tournament where Manchester United players are currently shining.

Daniel James and Marcus Rashford are the only two United men to have represented their country at Euro 2020 so far, though neither of them had quite the telling impact as Fred did over the weekend.

The Brazilian midfielder has polarised supporters ever since his move from Shakhtar back in 2018, a summer in which the then-new United signing didn't make it off the bench for his country at the World Cup in Russia.

A quarter-final exit to Belgium looked like it had spelled the end for Fred at international level, he'd have to wait until this year before he'd receive another call-up from manager Tite.

With such a long absence from the national team, many thought Fred would simply be squad filler for the ongoing Copa America tournament, but in an opening win against Venezuela, the United midfielder proved he is eager to make up for lost time.

The 28-year-old has found stability at Old Trafford as part of a trusty axis with Scott McTominay at the base of midfield, a pairing which brings with it mobility and solidity, but at the expense of limited forward play and minimal creativity.

Of the pair neither has really established themselves as the go-to man as a solo performer, an issue which needs to be solved if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is to revolutionise his tactical approach and play with one designated defensive midfielder.

While the anchor role might well be beyond both Fred and McTominay there is still scope for one of them to partner Paul Pogba next season at the base of a two, in order to do that one will need to earn the trust of Solskjaer to deal with such defensive responsibility.

Given there is such a clear need for a long-term successor to Nemanja Matic but that transfer priorities lie elsewhere this summer, there remains a real chance for Fred to make the deeper defensive role his own throughout next season.

There is growing reason to believe he might just be able to do that, too.

Fred shone in Brazil's 3-0 opening win on Sunday night, completing more passes than any other player on the pitch before he was replaced by Liverpool star Fabinho in the 86th minute.

The United midfielder created one chance during the match, won six duels and committed only one foul as he put in a measured and mature performance alongside Casemiro, the ideal mentor for him to work on his defensive attributes.

It might only be one promising performance but it was a timely reminder of what Fred still has to offer as well as a decent argument in favour of him being given such a role by Solskjaer in pre-season at least.

There is still lots of work to do if Fred is ever going to reach the levels of the leading defensive midfielders in the Premier League, but time is still just on his side.