Fred Manchester United 2019-20Getty Images

Fred is already Manchester United's player of the season, says Berbatov

Dimitar Berbatov has expressed his belief that Fred is already Manchester United's player of the season, while highlighting how his work in midfield "makes it much easier" for his team-mates to "go forward freely".

United invested £52 million ($65m) in Fred's talents in the summer of 2018, luring him away from Shakhtar Donetsk by tabling a lucrative four-year contract.

The Brazil international arrived at Old Trafford with a sterling reputation as an all-action midfielder capable of dictating the pace of games, but struggled to live up to expectations during his first full season in Manchester.

He initially fell out favour under Jose Mourinho, and was also unable to force his way into the plans of the Portuguese tactician's successor Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, leading to question marks over his future at the club.

Solskjaer ultimately decided to give Fred another chance to prove himself ahead of the 2019-20 campaign, and has since been rewarded for his faith as he has rediscovered his best form.

The 27-year-old has racked up 39 appearances for the Red Devils this season, with his superb technical ability and passing range on full display to help the club fight for success on both domestic and European fronts.

Berbatov has been hugely impressed with how Fred has been able to turn around his career at United, and expects him to continue playing a vital role in United's line-up when they get back on the pitch following the coronavirus-enforced break against Tottenham on Friday.

The ex-United striker told Betfair: "At first, Fred had a difficult time at United, getting used to the tempo, with the speed of the games and the challenges.

"It's not easy, coming from a different league, and sometimes he spent too much time on the ball and lost possession easily. Slowly but surely, however, his game has changed and he has become used to the Premier League.

"Fred's improvement reminds me of how Moussa Sissoko started at Spurs, people didn't rate him but now he's player of the season already and the fans love him.

"Patience pays off and, like Sissoko, Fred is proving that he has turned it around. He isn't getting much attention because Bruno Fernandes is still in the spotlight and Pogba is fit again, but Fred has his place there in midfield and if he is happy to not have the headlines but play regularly, I think he will take that.

"If you are an attacking player and you know that someone has your back, you are going to go forward freely and not be afraid to lose the ball.

"When you know you have Fred covering your back and you speak before the game, and have that understanding that your team-mate will be there for you, it makes it much easier as an attacking player to take risks and play those passes that can cause a lot of trouble."