A long-term feature in gossip columns and rumour round ups alike, the summer of 2016 could finally see Sporting Lisbon colossus William Carvalho bid his adopted homeland adieu.
The titanic midfielder has been perennially linked with either Arsenal or Manchester United (the flip of a coin typically decides which) since he emerged as a star for the Portuguese capital club in 2013/14, though neither team, nor any other suitor, has been able to strike a deal to sign him.
Years of frustration and futile scouting missions could finally be at an end, however, with the team who lands coveted Carvalho having former Tottenham Hotspur enforcer Sandro to thank.
The hot-headed Brazilian is in talks with Sporting after failing to suitably impress Tony Pulis when on loan at West Bromwich Albion from QPR last term and his arrival will potentially facilitate the sale of the Leones’ prized asset.
Carvalho is Sporting’s primary holding-midfielder, carrying out the lesser-celebrated chores that enable talents like Joao Mario and Adrien Silva – two more serial gossip column inch hoggers – to shine on the ball.
It’s in this role where Sandro is best deployed and it’s unlikely that Jorge Jesus’ three-man midfield can accommodate both players as well as the aforementioned creative assets.
Logic dictates that the former Spurs star’s arrival is to offset the departure of Carvalho, who has a £35m release clause in the contract he recently penned with Sporting.
It seems highly likely that his club have been fending off suitors for the length of time they have in order to maximise his value following a successful Euro 2016, which he will compete in at the ideal age of 24 – old enough to have a significant impact, but with sufficient years left in the tank with which to improve.
The Portugal side he will represent can be backed at 20/1 to win the competition.
Assuming he plays a pivotal role in a good tournament for the Seleccao, Sporting will have no trouble commanding the stratospheric sum required to release him from his deal and, with Man Utd in the market for midfielders, Carvalho could be whom they turn to.
Having already splurged a reported £30m on the destructive Granit Xhaka, it’s unlikely Arsenal will smash the piggy bank open to sign a similar player in the same pre-season, but adding more aggression to the Red Devils’ middle band is surely a priority of new manager Jose Mourinho.