Football Whispers tells you everything you need to know about Sporting Lisbon’s Portuguese star
SPORTING LISBON midfielder William Carvalho is a player who seems to be linked with a big-money Premier League move every summer.
The 25-year-old Portugal international has been marked out as one of the best in the Primeira Liga for some time now, and his performances at last summer’s European Championship earned rave reviews.
With interest once again high in Carvalho, our friends at Football Whispers have profiled the defensive midfielder to see whether he’d be a good fit for the English top flight.
Who is William Carvalho and where does he come from?
Born in Angola, Carvalho moved with his family to Portugal at an early age and showed a natural aptitude for football, playing in the streets with his friends and featuring for Mira Sintra’s youth teams.
At the age of 13 he joined Sporting Lisbon’s academy and made his first-team debut for the Portuguese club a week before his 19th birthday in April 2011 – a six-minute cameo in a 1-1 Primeira Liga draw with Vitoria.
Sent out on loan to Fatima in the Portuguese third division and then Cercle Brugge in Belgium, Carvalho honed his craft away from his parent club. He gained a greater understanding of his defensive midfield role and matured as a player.
He particularly impressed in Belgium when here scored his first ever professional goal and helped Cercle reach the Belgian Cup final in 2013.
Upon returning to the Estadio Jose Alvalade, Carvalho, still only 21 at the time, was made Sporting’s first-choice option at the base of midfield by new coach Leonardo Jardim – who is now in charge of Monaco and guided the Principality club to their first Ligue 1 title in 17 years last season.
The 25-year-old has since gone on to play 154 times for the Lions, scoring 10 goals. Success at club level has been limited for Carvalho, he is unfortunate to be playing in an era of complete dominance for Lisbon neighbours Benfica, who has just a Taca de Portugal winners’ medal to his name.
Carvalho has experienced greater success on the international stage, however, forming a key part of Fernando Santos’ remarkable Euro 2016-winning squad a year ago, Portugal’s first major footballing honour.
The 37-cap international started five times, including the final against host nation France, on Portugal’s against-the-odds run to lift the Henri Delaunay trophy — it would have been six were he not suspended for the semi-final victory over Wales.
Stylistically, Carvalho is a defensive midfielder who sits in front of the backline, but he is not the kind of all-action destroyer becoming en vogue in the Premier League, such as N’Golo Kante or Idrissa Gueye.
One-paced and lacking athleticism, the Sporting star is a more technical operator, covering less ground than the Chelsea or Everton men but disciplined enough to stay behind the ball and sweep up.
He is an accurate passer, completing 88 per cent of his passes in Portugal last term, Carvalho is capable of conducting play from deep and always tidy and efficient in his work on the ball.
In terms of weaknesses, on the occasions that he is caught out of position, Carvalho’s lack of athleticism sees him struggle to recover. But now 25 he has a sound understanding of his role and is exposed less frequently.
What is his most likely destination?
Arsenal look ready to splash the cash this summer, closing in on the £50million capture of Alexandre Lacazette and linked with moves for Riyad Mahrez and Thomas Lemar as they look to bounce back from last season’s disappointing fifth-placed finish.
The Gunners appear to be leading the race for Carvalho, who they are hoping to acquire alongside Sporting team-mate and fellow Portuguese international winger Gelson Martins, according to Zero Zero in Portugal.
Manchester City were also linked with a move for Carvalho earlier in the summer, with a new defensive midfielder apparently on Pep Guardiola’s transfer window wish list, while he is reportedly a West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United target too.
How much will he cost?
Arsenal have lodged a £77million double offer for Carvalho and Martins according to reports in Portugal. A solo bid for the midfielder would likely need to be in excess of £30million in order to convince Sporting to part ways with their key man.
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