After an excellent Euro 2016, where he was arguably one of the key players for the winners Portugal, William Carvalho will be a man in demand this summer. He has already been linked with Leicester, Southampton and Everton, while more clubs could enter the race in the coming weeks. The defensive midfielder has been linked with a move to England several times during his career, but now seems to be the right time to leave Sporting. He has developed well at the Portuguese club and showed in France that he can compete with the very best. At the age of 24, he is approaching the best years of his career and should look to play in a top European league.
He has been a regular for Sporting over the last three seasons and is unlikely to develop much more in Portugal. The league has three or four good sides, but under that the quality isn’t as strong, and as a result the competitiveness is not as high as it is in the top European leagues. He has also played in Belgium for Cercle Brugge, with the two year loan spell doing wonders for his development and confidence. This experience of moving to another country and doing well will stand him in good stead when he leaves the Portuguese league permanently.
Carvalho is a holding midfielder, who looks to break up the play. He is also a good passer of the football, which adds an extra dimension to his game, as he is able to use the ball effectively when he wins possession. His passing abilities were a major reason why he managed to displace Danilo in the Portugal side. Carvalho impressed many with his performances at Euro 2016 as he never panicked, and always looked calm, even in the final. He is a great tackler and his reading of the game has developed a lot over the last two years. The midfielder always seems to position himself well and rarely gives the ball away after winning it back.
There have been doubts about his mobility in the past and that has prevented a Premier League club from paying £20+ for the midfielder. However, Carvalho has adapted his game to make that less of an issue, showing across the matches at the Euros that he is well on his way to becoming a great defensive midfielder. He is very much a destroyer, who looks to win the ball back and give the ball to more attacking players. He is capable of carrying the ball forward himself, and does at times, but he looks to pass the ball more often than not, and remain in his position in front of the back four.
The links to Leicester are interesting as they could be set to lose Ngolo Kante, and would need to replace him in order to maintain their momentum. Carvalho would be the perfect replacement, as he has showed himself to be a great player at the Euros and at the age of 24, he is still likely to develop further. He is a less complete player than Kante, and is unlikely to cover the amount of ground that the Frenchman does, but he is a very good defensive midfielder. If Leicester signed him, it would go some way to replacing Kante’s ball-winning abilities. Southampton and Everton would both be interesting moves, but neither can offer Champions League football like Leicester can.
There could still be interest from Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, all of whom have been linked with the player in the past. There have been doubts about Carvalho in the past, which is why he has yet to leave Sporting. However, his performances at the Euros went some way to showing how much he has improved and that his concentration and game management have both developed massively. Clubs recognise the risks of buying off the back of a tournament, but it is clear that Carvalho has everything required to be a top defensive midfielder. He would need time to adjust to the pace and physicality of the English game, and that might put off some clubs. Personally, I think he would be a good buy for around £20m in the current market and has the potential to have sell on value in the future.