Manchester City have firmed up their interest in Fred – informing Shakhtar Donetsk they will pay in the region of £45m for the Brazilian international.
Ukrainian champions Shakhtar insist that is below their valuation – but City’s move is evidence of Pep Guardiola’s determination to land the midfielder as a long-term successor for Fernandinho.
MEN Sport revealed on Tuesday how the 24-year-old had been identified by Guardiola as the No6 he plans to secure between now and the summer window.
City’s move comes after Manchester United were also linked with Fred as a potential replacement for Michael Carrick.
Guardiola believes it is vital to secure back-up for Fernandinho, who he described this week as having played “a million minutes” already this term.
The Catalan has drawn up his transfer priorities for the January window and at the end of the season, with a commanding midfielder one of the areas most in need of address.
His main target this month remains a centre back, with the club prepared to walk away from their pursuit of Alexis Sanchez in the face of the huge financial package required to sign the Arsenal striker.
Fernandinho is on the verge of signing an extension to his contract, which expires in the summer.
But with the Brazilian set to turn 33 in May, Guardiola is looking to the future.
He has been one of City’s stand out performers so far this season – but has struggled to maintain those standards for an entire campaign in past years.
Yaya Toure ended up taking over his role for large parts of the second half of last season, with Fernandinho deployed at right back.
Guardiola admits he will need to manage his game time as City continue their pursuit of the quadruple – but is confident he will remain pivotal to his plans.
“Maybe it’s happened in the past (struggling in the second half of the season),” he said. “In the second half of last season he played good, especially when he played at full-back, a position he didn’t play regularly.
“I don’t have that feeling this season because he knows exactly what he has to do.
“We are going to take care of his minutes as much as possible, give him a break, because Fernandinho is a key player for us. He’s so important.”
Should Fred arrive this month, he will provide much-needed cover for a player who made 33 appearances already this season.
But he would be ineligible for the Champions League, having already played in it this term – including two impressive performances against City.