The talented midfielder could yet become the centrepiece in Klopp’s plans…
Liverpool’s campaign has been turbulent at best, calamitous at worst.
Jurgen Klopp has bathed in adulation since taking the reins on Merseyside and rightly so, but he must now weather the storm and criticism after the Reds failed to clamber back from their dismal form and salvage top four, ending a six-year streak of qualifying for the competition which no other English outfit boasts better exploits within.
Change is afoot, however, with the summer exodus comprised of Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Naby Keita, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain forthcoming – stricken loanee Arthur will also leave with 13 competitive minutes to his name.
The Premier League outfit have consequently been at the centre of a melange of transfer rumours of late, with none more prominent than the pursuit of Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Alexis Mac Allister, with the Seagulls reportedly demanding £70m for his signature.
However, Klopp and co could actually forget about the Argentine by unleashing a precocious talent already on Anfield’s books; Fabio Carvalho has looked promising this season but has yet to cement his place in the match-day squad with regularity, despite some big moments.
Speaking exclusively to Football FanCast, The Redmen TV’s Paul Machin waxed lyrical over the 20-year-old, highlighting his burgeoning qualities and insinuating that he could play a major role under Klopp’s wing across the coming years.
Machin said: “He’s small, he’s technical, he’s actually quite quick. I think he’s a tremendous little player. He’s got a great eye for goal, he’s got an uncanny knack to arrive in the right place at the right time, in terms of scoring goals.
“The best example of that? Well, two great examples are the late winner against Newcastle at Anfield, and [his goal] against Manchester City in the League Cup quarter-finals as well. Two really instinctive goals.”
How good could Fabio Carvalho be at Liverpool?
Liverpool signed the Portuguese starlet for £5m plus add-ons from Fulham last summer after missing out on the talent the previous winter, and despite playing a largely peripheral role has popped up with some big moments for the Reds, hailed as a “special player” by Klopp.
Notably, his seasonal highlight came against high-fliers Newcastle United, scoring a late winner at Anfield in the early phases of the campaign after netting against Bournemouth in the previous match, Liverpool winning that one by a record-equalling 9-0.
Netting against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup too, albeit this one ending in defeat, Carvalho certainly seems to have that ‘knack’ for sniffing out goals, but his game is not determined by his goal-scoring feats.
Indeed, as per FBref, the £40k-per-week gem ranks among the top 1% of midfielders across Europe’s top five leagues for rate of non-penalty goals and the top 1% for total shots per 90, but he also ranks among the top 11% for progressive carries, 1% for touches in the attacking box and the top 9% for rate of blocks per 90, and considering his lack of minutes on Merseyside this term, this underscored his burgeoning threat as a positive, box-crashing force from the centre.
He could indeed displace plans to secure the signing of Mac Allister, who has scored 12 goals and supplied three assists across all competitions for Albion this term and gleaned the World Cup with Argentina, heralded as his side’s “golden boy” by content creator Ryan Adsett.
But Mac Allister is a midfielder who thrives upon an associative style, instigating swift forward transitions, driving forward like a charging ram and utilising his crisp short passing to unlock defences.
This is not unlike Carvalho, who is already demonstrating his aptitude at carrying the ball up-field and slotting himself into pockets of space.
He’s a gem, unrefined, but glistening all the same, and with apt work in nurturing him to the fore of his capacity, he could emerge as a key component to Klopp’s Liverpool team – a blitzing presence in the centre.