Sporting Lisbon are reportedly putting coveted midfield star William Carvalho up for sale, and with Arsenal favoured to land his services, the Gunners could be adding exactly the kind of player the club needs.
According to Portuguese newspaper Record (h/t to Metro's Jamie Sanderson), the Gunners have been scouting the youngster for 18 months and launched a £24 million bid just last week, which was turned down.
The player reportedly has a £35 million release clause in his contract, but with Sporting now looking to move the player, a smaller fee could suffice, providing it is paid up front.
William Carvalho stands just shy of 6’2” tall and weighs close to 14 stone. He makes good use of his imposing frame to play the holding midfielder role – arguably the most important position in modern football – to near perfection.
[...] The author of this piece has been fortunate enough to have watched every one of his 24 appearances this season, half of them in the flesh. When I watch him I am left with the same impression I got when watching the young Angel Di Maria, Hulk or João Moutinho burst onto the Portuguese football scene. This is a very special player.
Carvalho is the latest in a long line of Portuguese super talents to emerge from Sporting's academy, and there's a reason he's being called the best player that system has produced since the great Cristiano Ronaldo himself.
It's not an overstatement to say Carvalho has everything you look for in a modern holding midfielder. He has phenomenal size, a very high football IQ, surprising technique and a composure on the ball that defies his young age.
He was one of the few Portuguese internationals to hold his own during the 2014 World Cup, made all the more impressive by the poor play of some of his teammates. Holding midfielders usually don't reach this level of play at such a young age; Carvalho is well ahead of the learning curve.
He could realistically start for a Champions League squad right now, but what makes him such an intriguing fit for Arsenal is that he doesn't have to. He's a humble, quiet player who had no qualms coming off the bench for Portugal in their World Cup fixture against the USA.
Carvalho doesn't have to rely on brute force to win battles in midfield, but he has the physical build to dominate opponents. That kind of physicality is something the Gunners would welcome with open arms.
He doesn't offer the offensive output of Manchester City's Yaya Toure, but Arsenal have plenty of attacking options in midfield. Adding a thumper with the technical baggage to fit into Arsenal's midfield philosophy would only make the team that much stronger.
Rafael Hernandez thinks he's the best prospect in Europe at the position:
Whether it's as an immediate starter next to Aaron Ramsey or as someone able to provide the midfield unit with some depth, Carvalho would be a smart signing at any price. His potential is undeniable, and Sporting's valuation of the player is understandable.
At the young age of 22, he carried the team throughout the 2013-14 season. With Arsenal having plenty of players able to distribute from the centre of the pitch for him, he could focus solely on what he does best—anchor the midfield unit and dominate proceedings in the battle for possession.
Carvalho is a future superstar at a position of need for the Gunners. If Arsenal are truly in pole position for his signature, Arsene Wenger shouldn't hesitate to pull the trigger on a deal.