The representatives of Shakhtar Donetsk star Fred are reportedly trying to tempt Manchester United into rivalling Manchester City for the Brazilian's signature as they are aware of Jose Mourinho's desire to strengthen his central midfield options.

Pep Guardiola's side have had two bids rejected for the midfielder by the Ukrainian outfit this month but are still expected to complete a deal for the 24-year-old, who was suspended from football for a year after testing positive illegal diuretic hydrochlorothiazide at the 2015 Copa America.

Fred is believed to have his heart set on a move to City, who are also closing in on the signing of Athletic Club defender Aymeric Laporte for around £57m, but The Manchester Evening News claim that the former Internacional star's representatives are urging United to try and gazump their close rivals for their client, who is seen as the successor to his ageing compatriot Fernandinho.

United boss Jose Mourinho is looking to find a replacement for the retiring Michael Carrick and may also need to find an alternative to Marouane Fellaini, who is expected to leave Old Trafford on a free transfer in the summer.

The former Chelsea manager was hoping to sign a new central midfielder this month but the return to fitness of both Fellaini and Carrick has seen the need for a fresh addition to the engine room diminish temporarily - the pair could feature for the first time in months when Mourinho's men face Yeovil Town in the FA Cup on Friday (26 January). United already have a list of midfield targets for the summer, with Nice's Jean-Michael Seri, Valencia's Carlos Soler and Borussia Dortmund's Julian Weigl all under consideration.

United have already pilfered a City target this month in the form of Alexis Sanchez but, while they admire the talents of Fred, whose well-rounded style appeals to Guardiola, the runaway Premier League leaders are expected to complete a move worth around £45m for the six-time Brazil international before the end of the month.

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