World Cup winner Gilbero Silva has remarked that Manchester United midfielder Fred reminds him of former Brazil international Jose Kleberson, who had an underwhelming spell at Old Trafford between 2003 and 2005.
Fred was handed his first World Cup start in Brazil’s 1-0 win over Switzerland on Monday, in which United teammate Casemiro ’s strike proved the difference. The duo struck up a solid midfield partnership during qualifying although Fred started Thursday's 2-0 win over Serbia on the bench.
Under Erik ten Hag, the 29-year-old has not been handed the regular game time he enjoyed last season, although has managed to push himself back into the picture after going more than two months without a Premier League start between August and October.
In the win over Switzerland, Fred was taken off on 58 minutes and replaced by Newcastle star Bruno Guimaraes as his side looked to find the breakthrough, which came seven minutes from time.
The United playmaker is now set to stay in Qatar for a little while longer, with the win over the Swiss ensuring their place in the World Cup knockouts. Speaking ahead of the game, countryman Silva said that Fred reminded him of Kleberson.
Kleberson suffered an injury in his second game for the Reds and would make just 30 appearances over two years, scoring twice, after signing for £6.5m from boyhood club Atletico Paranaense in August 2003.
The now New York City assistant manager earned 32 caps for Brazil, five of which came in the nation’s triumphant 2002 World Cup campaign. He formed an impressive central partnership with Silva, recording two assists including one in the final for Ronaldo’s second goal in the 2-0 victory over Germany.
Speaking to the BBC about today’s on-field relationship between Fred and Casemiro for Brazil, Silva said: "I have watched them play many matches together now and, for Brazil, they have lost only once - the 2021 Copa America final against Argentina.
"It works very well because Casemiro sits at the back like I did and Fred is more mobile, like Kleberson was when he was next to me in our midfield at the 2002 World Cup. But Fred is also defensively strong.
“He is not just in front of Casemiro, he plays alongside him too and helps him do his job. They have an understanding now and I'm hoping this partnership will work well again at this World Cup. If we are going to win it, it will play such an important part."