Football comparisons are hard to take particularly seriously. After all, Gerard Houllier once labelled Bruno Cheyrou as the next Zinedine Zidane, while the likes of Carlos Marinelli and Andres d’Alessandro were both likened to Diego Maradona.
Therefore, opinions that Sporting Lisbon academy graduate William Carvalho will become a similar force to Patrick Vieira must be taken with a pinch of salt. However, there is little doubting that he has the talent to be a potential world-beater in the future.
The Angolan-born midfielder has only broken through at Sporting this season, after a productive loan stint in Belgium with Cercle Brugge, but he is already among the first names on the teamsheet.
Carvalho has the attributes to be an imposing box-to-box athlete, but it is in a holding midfield role where he has flourished in Portugal thus far, allowing the likes of Adrien Silva and Andre Martins to get creative.
Alongside his sheer ground coverage, the 21-year-old is strong in the tackle, physically solid and is able to pass the ball with aplomb.
He is yet to make his international debut, but should Portugal reach the 2014 World Cup, it is not an outlandishly bold prediction to suggest he will be in their starting XI, especially given the nation’s lack of an effective holding midfielder in recent years.
A World Cup appearance will certainly boost his exposure and Manchester United are one club that have already been linked with his signature.
Although, Carvalho’s new contract with Sporting in the summer will reduce his chances of a big move, given he now has a minimum fee release clause inserted for €45m.
More recently, Carvalho changed his agent and the fact his interests are now looked after by Jorge Mendes indicates that Monaco must be considered the favourites to sign him in the future.
Radamel Falcao, Joao Moutinho, James Rodriguez and Ricardo Carvalho are among Mendes’ clients and all of this quartet moved to Monaco in the summer, suggesting the agent and club are on good terms.
Portugal are 33/1 in the World Cup odds to lift the trophy in Brazil, but first they must get through a two-legged qualifier with Sweden.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Fancy a flutter? Sign up today to claim three £10 free bets when you bet £10.