What to know about Liverpool target William Carvalho of Sporting Lisbon

Sporting Lisbon and Portugal holding midfielder William Carvalho has been heavily linked with a move abroad for over three years, particularly to the Premier League, so it was no surprise to see his name connected with a prospective transfer to Liverpool this week.

At first sight his imposing physical presence would appear tailor-made for English football, but questions persist as to how he would deal with the pace of the league.

Playing style: oozing composure or just plain slow?

Carvalho has sharply divided opinion since he burst on to the Portuguese football scene with a superb debut season for Sporting in 2013-14. Standing 6-foot-2 tall and weighing 89 kg, the Angolan-born defensive midfielder is a huge presence on the pitch.

Although fast when he gets into his stride, he has neither quick acceleration nor is he particularly swift and supple of movement. However, his excellent positional sense and his ability to fire off pinpoint passes at any range usually renders his sluggishness a non-issue.

When at his best, he can effortlessly run a game, artistically pinging the ball around the pitch and constituting a one-man wall in front on the defence, but when he is off the pace he can look cumbersome and lethargic and has a propensity to pick up yellow and red cards.

The knight who turned down Benfica for Sporting

His moniker among the Sporting faithful is "Sir William". Nobody is quite sure where the nickname came from but an episode before his professional career even started helps explain why Sporting fans hold him is such esteem.

At the dawn of the new millennium, word got out regarding an extremely promising 13-year-old and soon Benfica's scouting officials were knocking at the door of his home in Mira Sintra on the outskirts of Lisbon. When Portugal's biggest club comes calling, they are rarely knocked back, but Carvalho was a Sporting fan and refused the invitation to sign for their deadly city rivals, confident his chance would come in the green half of the Portuguese capital.

Memorable national team debut

A good illustration of how he is seemingly immune to pressure came on the day he made his full Portugal debut in November 2013. It was the second leg of the World Cup playoff with the Selecao wobbling against Sweden, having just conceded two Zlatan Ibrahimovic goals. One more for the hosts would have put Sweden ahead, leaving Portugal with the prospect of missing out on a major tournament for the first time since 1998.

Coach Paulo Bento turned to the Sporting star, who brought a sense of calm to proceedings. Ronaldo's hat trick heroics that night have gone down in Portuguese football folklore, but Carvalho's contribution in winning the midfield battle was crucially important.

Portugal glory

Carvalho has enjoyed his greatest successes wearing a Portugal shirt. He was magnificent in the 2015 Under-21 European Championship as the Selecao went all the way to the final before losing on penalties to Sweden. He played every minute of every game and was named Player of the Tournament.

The following summer it got even better as he was a mainstay of Portugal's Euro 2016 triumph. At the beginning of the tournament it was uncertain he would feature at all. Porto's Danilo had played an exceptional club season and had supplanted Carvalho as coach Fernando Santos' preferred holding midfielder.

However, a slight back injury picked up in the opener against Iceland persuaded Santos to rest Danilo and Carvalho got the nod for game two against Austria, subsequently putting on a masterclass. Bar the semifinal, for which he was suspended, he went on to play every game as he helped propel Portugal to glory.


You get the feeling that if Carvalho was caught up in the middle of a hurricane he would react in the same calm, composed and measured manner, slowly but surely weighing up his options before emerging unscathed.

His serenity was put to the test by Portuguese comedian Rui Unas in the Portuguese game of "Jogo do Serio".

The game pits two people staring each other out, the winner the one who does not crack by averting his gaze or laughing. As so often on the football field, Carvalho played a blinder.