Manchester United are in pole position to sign Shakhtar Donetsk star Fred this summer after rivals Manchester City cooled their interest in the midfielder.
Fred, the 25-year-old Brazil international, has been linked as a potential long-term replacement for Fernandinho at the Etihad Stadium.
Fernandinho, who turns 33 this year, has been a key player for manager Pep Guardiola but because of his age the club have begun the search for his successor in the defensive midfield role.
It was believed countryman Fred was that player but, according to The Times, City have ended their pursuit, leaving the door open for United to swoop.
The report claims officials from City and Shakhtar met to discuss the transfer earlier this season but they did not come to an agreement over a deal for the Brazilian, who is valued at £40million.
United have also been tracking Fred and, with Michael Carrick to retire and Marouane Fellaini expected to leave in the summer, the Red Devils could now make a move for the midfielder when the transfer window opens.
Shakhtar chief executive Sergei Palkin has even admitted the Ukrainian club’s star player is expected to leave in the summer, with Manchester his most likely destination.
“Fred will leave in June. If not to Manchester City, then to Manchester United ,” said the club chief.
“He is ready for the best championships. In addition to being very good, Fred is very professional.”
Fred has also made it clear that a move to the Premier League would aid his development as a player.
“Of course yes. I would evolve,” said Fred, who joined Shakhtar from Brazilian club Internacional in 2013.
“City are a great team, I would be happy to play there … or at Manchester United as well, at Chelsea , Arsenal, clubs of great tradition in Europe and England. It is the best league in the world, I have no doubt, and I believe that my football would evolve.
“I’m still 25, there’s a lot to grow and learn, play and observe great players of these clubs. That would help a lot, to learn by watching them.
“I’m sure that I will evolve in the future and that my agents will help me a lot to make the best decision possible, so that in the next window I am at a Premier League club.”