Manchester City are considering a January move for Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred in a bid to get a head start on their summer transfer business, sources have told ESPN FC.
The Brazilian is the club's top target for the holding midfield role after being watched by City scouts and impressing manager Pep Guardiola when the two sides met in the Champions League.
Fred, 24, is wanted to provide competition for Fernandinho, who last week signed a two-year contract extension, for next season. City's current alternative, Yaya Toure, is likely to leave the club at the end of the season when his current contract expires.
City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, director of football Txiki Begiristain and chief executive Ferran Soriano met at the weekend to discuss their transfer strategy. And ESPN FC has been told City are considering a £40 million deal with a view to Fred remaining in Ukraine until the start of next season.
Last summer saw a major inflation in the price of transfers and City expect that trend to continue again, which is why they are keen to wrap up the deal as soon as possible.
"We need to change the squad and of course what happened last summer everything increased amazingly," manager Pep Guardiola said ahead of Saturday's victory over Newcastle United. "You have to adapt to that. I think the price in the summer time will be higher than this winter."
Fred has revealed that he would be open to a move to the Etihad Stadium and has spoken of "a great coach like Guardiola and a great team like City." He added: "For sure, I would grow a lot with them. I have a lot to grow."
News of City's interest emerged just before Christmas and Fred added: "For me it was well received, even more so on Christmas Eve. Now I must continue to do my work at Shakhtar, and to be seen a lot by the whole world."