West Brom’s pursuit of a new defensive midfielder has taken them in a new direction if emerging reports this weekend are to be believed…
According to the Mail on Sunday (17/01, page 150), the Baggies are eyeing a move for Real Betis powerhouse William Carvalho this transfer window.
Albion boss Sam Allardyce is thought to be determined to land a holding midfielder before the end of the month, having been linked with Leicester City’s Hamza Choudhury in the past week, as per the Express & Star.
The 66-year-old also told reporters, via BirminghamLive, that three loan moves had fallen through, so reports linking the Midlands outfit with a move for the former Sporting Lisbon man is certainly intriguing, to say the least.
It’s hardly a surprise that Allardyce is looking for a proper anchorman as the current West Brom side does not have one, aside from rarely-seen academy graduate Sam Field.
Big Sam has had many a top player in the role throughout his long managerial career – at Bolton, there was Fernando Hierro and Ivan Campo, whilst in charge of West Ham, he had Mo Diame and Mark Noble.
Although the most interesting comparison has to be made to Steven Nzonzi, who he signed at Blackburn Rovers in 2009.
The pair are both rangy, imposing 6 foot 2 plus monsters and most importantly, are out-and-out holding midfielders. Both have even been likened to Patrick Vieira, so it’s a fair assessment to suggest they are cut from the same cloth in terms of playing style and for their physicality.
“You can see [Carvalho] as a mix between Yaya Touré and the classical Patrick Vieira,” wrote the Guardian before the 2014 World Cup.
Indeed, his figures throughout the course of his career reinforce this perspective – as per WhoScored, the 28-year-old enforcer has averaged 1.6 tackles, 1.4 aerial duels won, 1.3 dribbles and one interception per game over 172 appearances.
This shows that defensively, he’s a brute as he’s making tackles on a very consistent basis, whilst the fact that he can hold onto the ball makes those Vieira comparisons all that more true.
Such dribbling numbers would rank him alongside the dynamic Matheus Pereira whilst no other Baggies central midfielder wins as many duels in the air, also per WhoScored.
The Baggies have leaked more goals than any other team in the top-flight this season, so the addition of an anchorman could help shore up a leaky backline and as evident above, Carvalho, who has been capped 63-times for Portugal, would be an ideal candidate to bolster the position.
“He’s an amazing player with fantastic passing ability for such a strong holding midfielder,” once lauded international teammate Tiago.
Whilst his performances at Euro 2016 drew glowing praise from Rio Ferdinand too, he told BBC Sport (via the Metro): “He’s a giant, he’s huge. What is most impressive was his calmness and he’s secure with the ball.”
He’s won the European Championships and the UEFA Nations League, so perhaps the £18m-rated brute is an even better option than the aforementioned Choudhury.
It’s on Luke Dowling and co to sanction this move.
AND in other news, Fewer touches than Button: £9m-rated lightweight will have Big Sam fuming…