Why William Carvalho Would Be a Fantastic Signing for Arsenal

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Why William Carvalho Would Be a Fantastic Signing for Arsenal
Warren Little/Getty Images

If Arsenal can land Sporting Lisbon's William Carvalho, they will immediately be installed as one of the favourites to lift the Premier League next season.

According to Matt Law of The Telegraph, Carvalho would not come cheap.

Reports in Portugal have claimed Arsenal made a £24 million offer for Carvalho, but it was rejected because the London club wanted to stretch the fee over two payments.

Arsenal have scouted Carvalho for some time and are in the market for a defensive midfielder in the 22-year-old’s mould.

Carvalho has a buyout clause in his Sporting contract that is set at £35 million, but it is believed the Portuguese club could be negotiated down.

At £24 million, Carvalho would be the third most expensive signing in Arsenal's history. However, he might just be worth it.

After Arsenal's opening preseason fixture against Borehamwood, Arsene Wenger laid out his transfer requirements and hinted to Alec Shilton of the Express that he was not on the market for a new midfielder:

Up front we don't need any more. It's not especially for numbers. We need a goalkeeper for sure and after that it depends on how our midfielders get through without injuries until the start of the season. Maybe at centre-back we'll still bring one in.

Leaving aside the obvious likelihood of an injury to one of Jack Wilshere or Abou Diaby, Arsenal fans will hope Wenger is bluffing. The majority of supporters don't share his confidence in the midfield options the manager has at his disposal, particularly when it comes to the problematic area of holding midfield.

Arsenal's current choices in that position are the experienced pair of Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta. However, experience comes at a price: Age. Both men's powers are arguably on the wane, and question marks remain over whether or not they offer enough to provide an effective anchor to the Arsenal midfield.

Warren Little/Getty Images

Carvalho is certainly a potential solution. Although born in Angola, he is regarded as the next big thing in Portuguese football. Already a full international at 22, Carvalho is a towering presence in the centre of the park. He's an intelligent user of the ball, but crucially has the powerful physique required to dominate in the Premier League. He's capable of explosive bursts of athleticism that recall a youthful Yaya Toure.

However, Carvalho is more disciplined than Toure, and is far less prone to charging forwards in search of goals. This is a pure holding midfielder. Although he began his career as a No. 10, Carvalho now looks most comfortable operating at the very base of the midfield. From that deep position, he roams across the pitch, putting out fires and starting off moves with a simple but precise passing game.

Over the past 12 months, Arsene Wenger has shown a willingness to spend big to add to the attacking area of his squad, recruiting both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez at vast expense. This summer, we'll discover whether he's prepared to do the same to imbue his team with defensive strength. In terms of offering balance to the side, Carvalho could be every bit as important an investment as Ozil. The Portuguese midfielder could be the signing that transforms the Gunners from also-rans to champions.

James McNicholas is Bleacher Report’s lead Arsenal correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here.

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