The whispers linking Manchester United with a swoop for Sporting Lisbon midfielder William Carvalho have been around for some time, but they could be about to get a fair bit louder if The Mirror is to be believed.
United have reportedly ‘opened talks’ with Sporting over the 20-year-old, who could follow stars of the ilk of Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani in swapping the Estadio Jose Alvalade for Old Trafford.
Carvalho spent two seasons honing his craft on loan at Cercle Brugge in Belgium before being promoted directly to the first team upon his return to Lisbon last summer.
Having developed into an imposing physical specimen during his time away he was introduced straight into the first team reckoning, starting all but one of their games this term.
It was an introduction that has corresponded with the arresting of the slow decline that had seen Os Leoes, currently second in the Primeira Liga, finish sixth last term.
Not that it’s been a coincidence, with the deep-lying defensive midfielder locking out the Liga Sagres young player of the month award for the first four presentations of the campaign.
Furthermore his displays of defensive strength and unhurried distribution earned him the full award in October, November and December, during which time he made his first appearance for Portugal, playing 17 minutes as a substitute.
Once again, this wasn’t any old substitute appearance, with the callow Seleccao debutant thrust into the maelstrom of a World Cup qualification play-off in the wake of a Zlatan Ibrahimovic brace that was threatening to end the visitors’ chances of reaching Brazil.
Portugal manager Paulo Bento was rewarded for his faith with a performance of rare composure, as Carvalho made several vital interceptions in front of his back four.
It was a showing that should guarantee his ticket to the finals; one reason that The Mirror suggests United will be looking to tie up a deal before the World Cup gets underway.
The Red Devils are 29/20 to land maximum points when Liverpool visit the Theatre of Dreams for the sixth season running next time out.