Insight into William Carvalho’s season so far at Sporting Lisbon

by Sam Peoples

Manchester United were so heavily linked with William Carvalho last season that a move for the Portuguese midfielder seemed like an inevitability. Then David Moyes was sacked and everything went quiet.

With a €45m release clause, Carvalho is certainly not a cheap buy for whoever is interested and we wanted to find out how he is getting on this season, so we had a chat with Portuguese football expert Jan Hagen to get an update on the 22-year-old.

Hi Jan. First things first, can you introduce yourself to readers who haven’t read your previous interviews with The Peoples Person?

I’m a freelance journalist who has spent much of my weekends for the last four years watching Portuguese football and I will continue to do that for the foreseeable future.

William Carvalho has suffered from second season syndrome this year. How’s he been getting on?

After a brilliant first season on Sporting’s first team helping them get back to the Champions League and being one of the best, if not the best, player in the Primeira Liga, the expectations were huge ahead of the new season. People expected William to have taken further steps forward as a footballer during the summer. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

He looked out of shape when the season started and it almost seemed like he lacked motivation. During the first half of the season, we’ve only seen glimpse of what we know he’s capable of – dominating matches and make the life of his opponent very difficult.

Although William hasn’t lived up to last year’s form, his “bad” performances have been nowhere as bad as some, especially the English press, have painted them out to be. He hasn’t been outstanding week in week out, as he was last season, but he has been quite solid in most matches.

That being said, Carvalho has come back into form recently. Is he looking more like his old self?

He has come into the new year with a whole new spirit it seems. He looks more motivated and focused. He doesn’t make silly mistakes like he tended to do before Christmas and his passing is far more accurate. His form is increasing and he looks more and more like the player we saw last season. Hopefully he can keep it up and help Sporting to fight for silverware both domestically and abroad.

Rumours were rife linking Carvalho to Manchester United but they all went quiet this year. Why do you think that is?

William’s drop of form obviously had a part to play but also Sporting’s reluctance to sell below his €45 million release clause may have scared away potential buyers.

Do you expect rumours to re-appear this year?

To be honest, I expected more rumours regarding William’s future this winter, but the Portuguese press have been awfully quiet. Although the English press have linked him with moves to both Arsenal and Liverpool this winter, they’re even more unreliable than the Portuguese press.

“With his increasing form I’d be really surprised if William Carvalho hasn’t had medicals with six different clubs and agreeing terms with four others before we reach September 2015.”

Has anything changed with Sporting’s financial situation which could force the club into selling William?

The club President Bruno de Carvalho has done wonders with the club’s finances since taking over two years ago. They’re doing better and better but they wouldn’t say no to a huge offer for any of their players.

De Carvalho’s campaign against third party ownership has recently seen Sporting regaining 100% of William Carvalho’s economical rights (previously Sporting only held 60%). This means Sporting will get the whole transfer fee from a potential sale and not just 60% which they would have got last summer. This could lead to Sporting agreeing a fee below his release clause.

Seeing how well he has played, surely Sporting would be interested in a straight swap – Nani for William. Seems fair?

Sporting could never pay Nani’s wages and he would have to take an enormous wage cut. A permanent transfer to Sporting may be seen on as a step down for Nani as well. His performances for Sporting, and especially in the Champions League, in the first half of the season just proves that it’s too early for him to come home permanently. He still has what it takes to perform well in one of Europe’s top leagues for two to three years.

How have the press and fans taken to Nani? Do they get on his back when he under performs or do they remain patient, knowing that he could win a game when he gets it right?

When he has an off-day, he’s really frustrating to watch but the fans and the press has been patient with him. Not that they have needed to be that because he has been playing consistently well. The fans love him and the press love to write about him. It was a dream come true for the Sporting fans to see Nani return to The Alvalade this summer and he has been a big success.

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