When Liverpool attacker Diogo Jota was ruled out of the World Cup and beyond, there was a collective groan from the Anfield faithful.
Jota deserved to go to Qatar. His form since arriving in Merseyside has been simply astounding, with the Portuguese sensation scoring 34 times in his 93 outings.
Even if his game time hasn’t been as regular over the last year, he has still been a constant threat for Jurgen Klopp, and in the absence of Sadio Mane, his importance to Liverpool became greater.
However, until the World Cup break commences, the Reds will have to make do without their wily operator who will spend time on the treatment table, instead of on the pitch.
One man’s misfortune is another’s gain, however, with a like-minded diminutive Portuguese gem set to be given an extended run in the side.
That happens to be Fabio Carvalho, who has shown in glimpses what immense potential he has in his locker.
He has added a youthful exuberance to this front line and alongside Darwin Nunez, the future looks bright for Liverpool.
It will take a while for Klopp to nurture their impressive talent but it only feels like a matter of time before they both begin to explode. Nunez scored the game’s only goal against West Ham on Wednesday evening – a fine bouncing header that left Lukasz Fabianski with no chance.
The strike came about as a result of the space on the left-hand side, where Carvalho had left on this occasion in order to give Kostas Tsimikas the space to deliver an inch-perfect cross.
That rather summed up the former’s display throughout his 57 minutes on the field, with the young attacker proving adaptable in the final third, interchanging with his teammates in order to create havoc for David Moyes’ backline.
Carvalho’s numbers during the course of the match were far from impressive, with the 5 foot 7 prodigy failing to have a single shot or provide a cross with his 37 touches of the ball. Those stats may well be rather alarming but his display was more than about the stats.
Although he completed 100% of his dribbles and supplied a key pass, it was his ability to glide through the game while tucking inside regularly that stood out so much.
His ability to beat a man and stray from the touchline is remarkably similar to a certain Philippe Coutinho, with comparisons between the two already rife this season.
Indeed, shortly after he arrived at Liverpool, Jason McAteer said of his play style: “Fabio Carvalho coming in looks a little like he could play like Philippe Coutinho or could play in that false nine role like Firmino.”
Further comparisons came from ESPN writer Adam Brown who noted back in July that an “impressive debut” from Carvalho saw Liverpool “re-discover a midfield element that has been missing since Philippe Coutinho left in 2018.”
The most recent of claims came during his performance against West Ham last night with former footballer George Chomakov saying that the ex-Fulham man gives him “Coutinho vibes.”
Carvalho may not have found the net on Wednesday evening as the Brazilian did so regularly in Merseyside but it now feels like it’s only a matter of time before he bursts onto the scene at this level properly.
An encouraging display against the Irons was all the proof we needed of a player looking more and more at home as he grows into his Liverpool career.