Over the past couple of weeks, reports have started to emerge both in Portugal and England that Newcastle United are interested in raiding Sporting Lisbon for two of their hottest properties; Ruben Semedo and perhaps more notably William Carvalho.
Carvalho has become a well-known and much-admired player across Europe over the past two years, playing a major role in Portugal’s deserved Euro 2016 victory, as well as a Sporting Lisbon midfield which has performed admirably in the Champions League.
Fans of Newcastle United will undoubtedly be excited by the reports circulating regarding ‘William’ as he is known, potentially being lined up by Rafa Benitez to play at St James’ Park in the Premier League season. However, with a large amount of contrasting and unconfirmed reports regarding how much money Benitez has to spend over the summer, is Carvalho worth the money Sporting will demand?
According to Portuguese freelance writer Rui Miguel Martins (@futebolfactory) Semedo and Carvalho could be secured for approximately £35m with Carvalho costing the majority of that, which could be up to potentially 50% of Rafa Benitez’s entire summer budget. Arguably, Newcastle’s central midfield position with the likes of Shelvey and Hayden being present, and excelling last season, doesn’t need an improvement but could Newcastle really turn down the chance to sign someone of Carvalho’s quality if they had the opportunity?
Carvalho is still only 25 and has been playing at the top level not just domestically in Portugal, but in the Champions League and internationally for over four years now with numerous commanding displays having been shown over that time. There is no doubt Carvalho has the potential to be a top-class player but there are still concerns regarding the consistency of his performances. Kristan Heneage (@KHeneage), a writer for publications such as Four Four Two, ITV Football and Yahoo Sport UK as well as being a main contributor to The Front 3 podcast had the following to say regarding the holding midfielder:
“I think to look at Carvalho you’re looking at a traditional number 6 in a number of ways. He’s strong, he’s a good short range passer, and speaking to friends in Portugal, they’re of the opinion he’d be close to Sergio Busquets in style if not yet ability.”
This could successfully complement Jonjo Shelvey’s passing game, but the lack of mobility between the two could be worrying, and Carvalho seems to benefit from playing beside a box-to-box midfielder such as Renato Sanches at international level, which was effective enough to help lead the Portuguese to their first major international trophy with the midfield pairing being instrumental.
Kristan also added “His weaknesses are also things you might attribute to Busquets. He’s slow, he’s been accused of being lazy, and unlike Busquets, I’ve yet to see him really show a range of passing.”
Arsenal offered Sporting Lisbon £13m and Joel Campbell a couple of years ago, which was turned down, but the ‘big’ clubs have since turned their attention elsewhere possibly due to a lack of consistency and a fractured leg suffered in 2015 just before the transfer window opened.
Kristan has a theory of why the big clubs may have been deterred.
“Portugal for me is a curious league to buy from. There are gems hidden away that can produce at the very top level. At the bigger clubs, you have a steady stream of talent, but it’s also easy to buy a player based on hype.
“I’d compare it to Joao Moutinho and Miguel Veloso. Moutinho is at Monaco and needed a change of scenery after stagnating at Sporting and he got that with a move to Porto.
“Veloso didn’t really ever hit those heights when he left Portugal and it’s a shame because I remember a game at Old Trafford in which he excelled.”
There are reasons as to why William Carvalho could end up being a fantastic signing, but the fee Sporting would want and the risks of the player cast doubt over whether Rafa Benitez feels Carvalho is the man to play at the heart of his team. The deal may not make financial sense for the club if the budget is believed to be around £100m at the club and I have to agree with Kristan when he says, “I’d be surprised if Newcastle sanctioned the deal. It’s a huge outlay relative to their overall budget and you’re making him the fulcrum of your midfield at that cost. I don’t know how he handles that pressure or the demands of a midfield two in England.”
What do you think? Should Newcastle take the risk and splash the cash on Carvalho?