Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appears to have dropped a huge hint over the future of midfielder Fred in the aftermath of his side’s Europa League final defeat.
The Brazilian has been a contentious figure among Red Devils supporters since joining from Shahktar Donetsk, with many questioning whether he can be a long-term option in midfield.
Despite that though, he has been a regular under Solskjaer, making 48 appearances in all competitions in the season just gone.
But Fred failed to sufficiently recover from a knock suffered in the Premier League draw against Fulham to start Wednesday night’s final.
Instead, he was brought off the bench 10 minutes into extra-time, replacing Mason Greenwood as Solskjaer changed tactics.
United failed to find a way past Geronimo Rulli during his time on the pitch, with the final going to a penalty shoout.
The 28-year-old was also successful with his spot-kick, United’s sixth, but David De Gea’s miss ultimately saw Villarreal lift the Europa League trophy.
Fred has been linked with a departure from Old Trafford after underwhelming performances and with Solskjaer reportedly keen to upgrade his midfield options.
But the Red Devils boss appeared to rubbish those rumours, hinting that Fred is in fact one of the key members of his squad.
“We missed two big ones today with Fred and Harry [Maguire]. We have a strong, competitive squad,” Solskjaer told BT Sport following the heart-breaking defeat.
“The spirit in the squad is good. They're gutted in there. Now is not the time to analyse the whole season.”
While United fans may be keen to see Fred depart, Solskjaer’s hint appears to have dashed those hopes.
The Norwegian also insisted that his side still have much to learn as they strive to end their trophy drought, which has now stretched into a fourth year.
“We have to learn from that one, not savour this feeling but taste this feeling and make sure we don't get it again. We didn't turn up. We didn't play as well as we know we can,” he said.
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