Arsene Wenger is closing in on long term target William Carvalho, with widespread reports suggesting Arsenal are bidding for the £25m rated defensive midfielder.
Current employers Sporting Lisbon are willing to negotiate if their evaluation of the player is met and finally allow the Portuguese star to make the long anticipated transition to a Premier League club. Manchester United have also been accredited with interest in the 22-year-old but it appears Arsenal are leading the race thanks to Davey Blind becoming a Red Devil over the summer.
The Gunners started the season well stocked in midfield albeit without a world class holding midfielder. However persistent injuries to Mikel Arteta, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby may force Wenger into the market this January. Francis Coquelin was even brought back early from his loan spell at Charlton Athletic to start alongside Mathieu Flamini in Sunday’s 2-1 away win to West Ham United.
The Frenchman confirmed he is open to finding midfield reinforcements this January in the Southampton pre-match press conference:
If you look at the number of games some players played and the injuries we have with [Jack] Wilshere, [Aaron] Ramsey and [Mikel] Arteta, we’re a bit short at the moment in midfield.
Carvalho has made 48 appearances for Sporting, 13 of which have come in the Liga Sagres this campaign and he featured in all six Champions League games this season.
He has represented Portugal at every youth level and made his debut last year in the senior squads 2-1 victory over Sweden to secure qualification to the 2014 World Cup. Carvalho played twice in the World Cup finals including the full ninety minutes in Portugal’s 2–1 win over Ghana.
The 22-year-old had an 85.2% pass competition average in the Champions League, making 2.2 tackles per match in his six appearances.
Should we buy?
Carvalho is an exciting prospect and someone we have been courting for some time. It is clear we need someone in ASAP to succeed the aging Arteta, someone who is a specialist defensive midfielder who can add plenty of physicality and athleticism into our midfield.
Although Carvalho is not available for Champions League football due to his involvement with the Lisbon-based outfit it is certainly worth bringing him in to acclimatize to English football and help Arsenal on all domestic fronts.
Wenger has shown a willingness to utilize multiple holding players in certain games so it would certainly not be a surprise to see the Frenchman spend big on a midfielder. A defender is a priority but a combative player in the engine room would be a wise purchase.
Is he top of my wishlist? No. Personally Morgan Schneiderlin of Southampton is my number one pick. Although he is 3 years older than Carvalho, Schneiderlin is an established, proven, talented France international who has been superb in the Premier League. Arsenal are lucky he’s suspended tomorrow.
Rumour Rater: 3/5
1 – Never going to happen
2 – Unlikely
3 – Could be possible
4 – Likely
5 – Done deal
Share your thoughts in the comments below.