West Ham Opinion: William Carvalho could transform the Hammers into a formidable force next season
This is not the first time, though, that the Hammers have been linked with a move for the midfielder. BBC reported back in 2017 that Carvalho, then at Sporting Lisbon, was close to making a move to the Premier League, only for a deal to collapse due to miscommunication between the two clubs.
However, as the story goes, West Ham are once again back in the market for Carvalho, who currently plies his trade in the La Liga with Real Betis. Betis are unlikely to let Carvalho depart the cheap, having only signed him from Sporting Lisbon last summer, but the Hammers are apparently fancying their chances of striking a deal for their long-term target this time around.
The 27-year-old produced a wonderful performance for his nation and completely outclassed Dutch midfield sensation Frenkie de Jong on Monday, as Goncalo Guedes’ solitary strike handed Portugal a 1-0 victory over The Netherlands in the finals of the UEFA Nations League.
A youth product of Sporting Lisbon, Carvalho rose to prominence with his boyhood club and carved out a massive reputation in his homeland as one of the best central midfielders. The 27-year-old made a total of 193 appearances for Sporting over the course of six seasons at the club, whilst also spending time on loan at lower division club Fatima and Belgian club Cercle Brugge.
Carvalho made an instant impact in the La Liga following his move to Spain last summer and registered a total of 43 appearances for Real Betis in all competitions this past season, accumulating 5 assists in the process. The 27-year-old, who boasts of 56 caps for Portugal at the senior international level, has represented his nation at the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cups, whilst playing a key role in their Euro 2016 and 2018-19 UEFA Nations League triumphs.
Essentially a defensive midfielder by trade, Carvalho is also capable of playing in a box-to-box role in the middle of the park and as a central defender at the back. Standing at 6ft. 2 inches with a sinewy and well-built frame, the Portuguese international has carved out a reputation himself as one of the most robust defensive midfielders around in Europe.
A powerful and physically dominating presence in the middle of the park, Carvalho might not be the most agile of players but he is a tremendous athlete and overcomes his relative lack of pace with his incredible speed of thought.
Noted for his calmness and composure in possession, accurate ball-distribution and impressive range of passing, Carvalho not only has the awareness and the game-reading ability to break up the play and win possession back for his team but he is more than capable of carrying the ball forward with intent.
Strong on the tackle and dominant in the air, the 27-year-old is also a good dribbler and has a keen eye for defence-splitting through balls in the final third. To be honest, he has all the attributes to replicate his success in the Premier League and West Ham reigniting their interest in the 27-year-old certainly makes a lot of sense.
To put things into perspective, the Hammers are in the market for a new central midfielder to replace the likes of Pedro Obiang and Carlos Sanchez, with both the players struggling for form and fitness at East London.
Youngster Declan Rice was one of the standout performers for West Ham in the midfield under the stewardship of Manuel Pellegrini this past season, and while veteran club-captain Mark Noble did a decent job as his partner in the middle of the park, the Hammers need to look for a long-term replacement.
West Ham are closing in on the acquisition of attacking midfielder Pablo Fornals from Villarreal, according to The Guardian. However, the Hammers need to invest in another top-quality defensive midfielder in a bid to bring the best of out Rice and improve cohesiveness in the middle of the park.
Carvalho, with his wealth of Champions League, Europa League, Primeira Liga and La Liga experience, certainly fits the bill and he should be high on confidence after guiding Portugal to victories in Euro 2016 and the recently-concluded UEFA Nations League.
Also, the dominant and authoritative presence of someone like Carvalho would add a lot of steel and depth to West Ham’s midfield and go a long way towards getting the best out of more attacking players like Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini and Jack Wilshere.
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Having secured a 10th-place finish in the Premier League last season, West Ham need to bring in some upgrades this summer in a bid to challenge for a Europa League spot next term, and the acquisition of William Carvalho could transform them into a formidable force capable of rubbing shoulders with the big-six in the division.