Is William Carvalho the man to transform Manchester United's midfield?

Manchester United 3

William Carvalho has attracted admiring glances from across the continent and has been dubbed in some quarters as the next Patrick Vieira

Sporting Lisbon midfielder William Carvalho is a man highly coveted, it would seem, with media reports suggesting both Manchester United and Arsenal had scouts present during Sporting's 0-0 draw with Academica on Sunday.

The young midfielder has impressed during his breakthrough season at the club and has drawn comparisons with the likes of Patrick Vieira for his all-action style at the heart of midfield.

But who exactly is this Sporting youngster? And can he be the man to transform a flagging Manchester United midfield? 

United fans will probably not be salivating at the prospect of blowing the majority of the transfer budget on a relatively untried teenager but Carvalho is set to be the real deal.

His rumoured £37m buyout clause in a contract which lasts until 2018 may prove prohibitive to some but his versatility, comfortable operating in defence, just in front of the back four or even slightly further upfield has been noted by various clubs already.

Primarily, he plays as a defensive midfielder with a high work-rate and upper body strength that belies his tender 21 years. At 6ft2" however, there should be no reason to take him lightly. The man provides real presence in midfield but it should be noted that this is not simply just a brutish powerhouse here.

Carvalho is equally adept at fitting into a passing game, having honed his game with Sporting. He made his debut as far back as 2011 but has had to be patient in waiting for his chance, taking in two separate loan spells - at Fatima and Cercle Brugge respectively - before cementing his place this season.

The newly-appointed Leonardo Jardim turned to Carvalho in the summer and saw enough promise to make him a mainstay of the Lisbon outfit and he has certainly reaped the rewards for placing his faith in the Angolan-born Portugal international.

He made his debut for A Selecao in the FIFA World Cup playoff win in Sweden, as Cristiano Ronaldo plundered a hat-trick to take his team to Brazil. Carvalho played a more reserved role, helping his country keep out Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Sweden in the closing exchanges as he made a 20-minute cameo.

If all this wasn't enough for scouts hunting down 'the next Vieira', then he also shows a keen eye for goal, evidenced through his accomplished strikes in the 3-1 defeat to Porto and the 4-0 thumping of Pacos Ferreira.

image: © birdies-perch/

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch