Fabio Carvalho: Who Is Liverpool’s Latest Signing?

Fabio Carvalho
Photo Credit: AP

Portugal under-21 international Fabio Carvalho is heading to Liverpool this summer on a deal which could cost almost £8 million. Carvalho, at just 19 years old, is clearly a signing for the future, but Liverpool are not intending to loan him out this summer.

Carvalho started 33 matches for Fulham in the Championship in 2021-22, playing a key role as the west London club once again earned promotion to the top flight.

He scored 11 goals and notched seven assists in the process, primarily operating in the number 10 role.

A smart playmaker, the Portuguese teenager recorded 1.7 key passes per game in the Championship, a mark that was only bettered by nine players. Just 14 players averaged more shots per contest, too.

Many of Liverpool’s core players are nearing the end of their prime years. This squad obviously doesn’t need an overhaul or a drastic rebuild, but it is important they lay the foundations for their next great team.

Carvalho is unlikely to be a regular starter in 2022-23, yet this acquisition could prove to a masterstroke as they aim to extend their stay at the top of English and European football.

There will be ample opportunities for minutes as Jurgen Klopp’s team try and compete on four fronts.

Carvalho’s exact role in Klopp’s system is yet to be determined, especially with Luis Diaz shining and Sadio Mane potentially out of the exit door. What’s impossible to deny, however, is what a coup this is for the Anfield outfit.

Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea all pursued the youngster a few years ago while exhibiting his skills for Balham FC. Liverpool were vying for his signature, too.

The biggest clubs sent representatives, he was taken on a training ground tour, and attracting headlines for his play on hard courts and 3G pitches in London.

Instead of being lured in by the glamour, Carvalho and his family settled on a move to Fulham, which has clearly paid dividends.

He shone in Fulham’s academy and made his senior debut in 2020, a matter of days after his 18th birthday.

With Fulham lighting up the Championship, Carvalho’s stock continued to soar, and Liverpool swept in to complete a long-awaited signing after missing out in the January window.

A club statement announced the deal: “Liverpool FC can confirm Fábio Carvalho will join the club this summer. The 19-year-old forward will officially complete a switch to the Reds on 1 July.

“Carvalho played a key role in Fulham’s promotion back to the Premier League, scoring 10 goals and providing eight assists in 36 games as Marco Silva’s side won the Championship title.

“He had featured for the Cottagers in the top flight on four occasions in the previous season, marking his first Premier League start with a goal away at Southampton in May 2021.

“An exciting talent born in the Lisbon region of Portugal, Carvalho made his debut for Portugal Under-21s in March of this year having previously represented England at youth level.

“Carvalho came through the academy ranks at Fulham and went on to make 44 senior appearances in total for the London club.”

Fulham will be gutted to lose such a key player ahead of their Premier League return, but they can take solace from a 20% sell-on clause.

Tony Khan, the club’s owner, touched on their efforts to keep hold of the teenage phenom.

“Fabio is a great talent and we did everything we could trying to secure him here on a longer deal so he could play in the Premier League with Fulham.

“That didn’t prove possible, but we were able to keep him for the remainder of the Championship-winning campaign and for that I know he will always be very fondly remembered by our fans.”

Fulham’ loss is ultimately Liverpool’s gain. Harvey Elliott, who was in Fulham’s academy with Carvalho, spoke glowingly of Liverpool’s latest acquisition.

“Fabio’s a great kid as well as a great player, so I don’t need to say too much on him. I’m sure he’ll show you very quickly why Liverpool have signed him.

“He’s a world-class player and I think he’ll bring that flair to this team, that sort of young power, in a way. He’s one for the future, definitely.

“To be able to link up and reunite with him, and to hopefully play with him on the same pitch like the old days, it’ll be great.

“Hopefully we can both show each other why we deserve to play with each other and to share the pitch with one another. He has the work rate, he has the ability, the skill, shooting, dribbling. You name it, he has it.

“As I said, I’m sure he’ll show you very, very quickly why Liverpool have signed him. He’ll be a great asset to the team.”

Carvalho hits a nice medium between promise and fanfare. There are no wild expectations for him given the relatively low-profile nature of his transfer, and Liverpool are not in desperate need of attacking talent.

Whatever they get from him in the next couple of seasons is a bonus. The small transfer fee keeps the pressure under control.

That’s just part of the reason Liverpool is a great place for Carvalho to take the next step in his career.

There will be a period of adaptation, learning Klopp’s system and understanding the requirements of the different roles he might have to fulfil, but the teenager is joining a club with a sensational track record when it comes to developing young players from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson to Diogo Jota and Curtis Jones.

It’s no guarantee that Carvalho will be Liverpool’s next star. The talent he showed at Fulham makes it hard to bet against him being a success at Anfield, though.