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Portugal boss says £35m United target and veteran midfielder can coexist

Portugal manager Paulo Bento has addressed the battle between Miguel Veloso and Manchester United linked William Carvalho to start at the World Cup.

Cristiano Ronaldo inevitably steals the headlines for Portugal wherever the Seleccao go, but in Brazil this summer plenty of prying eyes will be on team-mate William Carvalho.

William rose to prominence at Sporting Lisbon last term with a seemingly endless font of dominating performances last season, catching the attention of Europe’s talent spotters.

Manchester United have been closely linked with the 22-year-old, a defensive midfielder equally adept at both breaking up opposition play and distributing the ball with incisive accuracy.

Said to carry a price-tag upwards of £35 million, Louis van Gaal reportedly sees him as a top target and the World Cup in Brazil is a chance to solidify reputation on the international stage.

William only made his senior Portugal in November 2013 but his scintillating season for Sporting saw him become an essential selection by boss Paulo Bento for this summer’s tournament.

And there’s only been one thing standing of his way of bursting directly into the starting eleven as well - 28-year-old Miguel Veloso, who was frequently linked with United himself during his days as a youngster at none other than Sporting Lisbon.

Veloso would never make his way to Old Trafford and now plays his club football for Dinamo Kiev, but has been an important member of the Portugal squad for years with 50 caps to his name.

The majority of these appearances during Bento’s reign at the helm have come as the central defensive midfielder in a 4-3-3 set-up - William’s preferred role.

Veloso and William have in turn been jockeying for position in Portugal’s warm-up games, but Bento has now commented on the situation and refused to rule out playing the two together.

“They can coexist, as they did in our first friendly match preparing for the World Cup [against Greece],” he told reporters this week.

“It was a slightly different system, a 4-4-2, but they can coexist in a 4-3-3 as well.

“They might be both more comfortable playing in the number 6 role alone, but I think they can play together as Miguel as able to move into a more advanced role as well.”

Whilst Bento was quick to point out that Veloso and William can play cooperatively, his words suggest that the veteran could be moved to accommodate the youngster.

Veloso started in Portugal’s 1-0 win last week over Mexico, whilst William got the nod for the Seleccao’s final pre-World Cup friendly - a 5-1 thrashing of Republic of Ireland on Tuesday.

However, until Portugal’s Group G opener against Germany next Monday, Bento’s final decision on how he will deploy his midfield remains a mystery.

As for United, they’ll likely be hoping current prospect William will be given the chance to shine over former target Veloso, in order to have a close look at the Sporting man in a high-pressure environment.

A successful World Cup would be a fitting supplement to a brilliant club season for the 22-year-old, and potentially confirm for suitors like United the William is indeed the star of the future he’s been touted as.

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