During the early part of this year there was story after story coming out of the Portuguese media about interest in Sporting Lisbon midfielder William Carvalho. Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool, AS Monaco, Juventus, Real Madrid, Barcelona... the list of clubs linked with the talented youngster was certainly impressively if also a little predictable for the rumour mill. The side which had the most William Carvalho related column inches in both the British and Portuguese media was Manchester United. They had a huge need for midfield reinforcements and had been sending scouts to watch Sporting Lisbon matches all season. Even prior to that, Manchester United had watched Carvalho on loan in Belgium before the vast majority of people in football had even heard of his existence
Yet when it came to actual bids being made, the strongest stories in Portugal were about Arsenal. Toward the end of July we covered the news coming from the Portuguese media:
'O Jogo say that Arsenal have officially and directly made a €30m bid for William Carvalho. That offer was sent to the offices of Sporting Lisbon. The amount of €30m isn't something which made Sporting close the door to a deal.
The Portuguese newspaper explain, in the full version of their article which isn't on their website, that Sporting were happy to open negotiations with Arsenal at €30m. They make it sound like a deal could be done for around that figure and that Sporting have stopped clinging to the buyout clause of €45m so much.
The Problem was Arsenal's wish to pay the amount in two lots and that's what made Sporting say a deal wasn't happening. The Portuguese club only own 60% of Carvalho, say O Jogo, with the other 40% being owned by the Sporting Portugal Fund. Third party ownership is very common in Portugal and can sometimes make transfers difficult.
Arsenal's €30m offer works out at £23.7m, half of that upfront is £11.85m, Sporting's 60% of that would be £7.1m. It's easy to see why they want everything upfront.'
The midfielder himself is now established with the Portuguese national team and has spoken to an official magazine released by the country's FA. The quotes have been picked up by A Bola and they add weight to the claim that Arsenal made a bid which didn't get close to the Sporting Lisbon clause.
Carvalho is quoted as saying "I would not say I was disappointed, but despite being very happy at Sporting, we all have ambitions and I hope one day to be playing in the best leagues in the world, the English or Spanish. It did not happen this year, but if I continue to do my job as I have been doing for sure that sooner or later it will happen.
"I understand the proposals, but I think that there was no value for the clause and therefore they have been refused."
Should Carvalho build on his excellent breakthrough season then it would be no surprise if Arsenal returned with something which the player's current club found more palatable. If he'd had a stand out World Cup then it would have been more likely for a club to offer big bucks last summer and that's what Sporting were probably hoping for, however it didn't materialise. Arsenal have the need for a player such as Carvalho and he's admitted himself he has a soft spot for the club, a move doesn't sound too unlikely but then Arsenal can often surprise with their transfer manoeuvres.