Where does new signing Fábio Carvalho fit at Liverpool?

Photo Credit: AP

After agreeing in May to move north from Fulham, Fábio Carvalho finally completed his transfer to Anfield to join Liverpool on July 1st, 2022. The next challenge for the 19-year-old is to find a way to lock down a place in the starting line-up.

Having long been an admirer of Carvalho, Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp finally has his man. But where exactly does the young Portuguese attacking player fit into Klopp’s plans?

Premier League return for Fábio Carvalho

Fábio Carvalho has had a taste of Premier League football before. During Fulham’s brief stay in the top flight in the 2020/21 season, he made four appearances for the Cottagers. The attacking player did bank his first ever Premier League goal in that burst of appearances.

He was on target against Southampton in a league defeat towards the end of the season. That sample-taste of top-flight action at least gave Carvalho a look at what it takes to thrive in the Premier League.

With Fulham dropping out of the top flight that season, the youngster has also had an early taste of disappointment. Of how quickly life as a professional footballer can change. Going from the high of a full Premier League debut to relegation within a short span would have been a wake-up call.

Relegation benefits

But Fulham’s relegation that season was perhaps a good thing for the development of Carvalho. With Fulham holding one of the strongest squads in the second tier and promotion candidates from the start, it allowed more trust to be thrown at the youngster in terms to starting matches.

He was a regular starter, thriving with his natural, creative attacking game in the lower-quality second tier. Had Fulham remained in the top flight, scrapping week in and week out in a relegation fight, the same kind of opportunities may not have come the youngster’s way.

The stats from his first full season with Fulham in the second tier clearly hinted at the ability that the player possesses. In 36 Championship games, Carvalho rattled off 10 goals. He also made two FA Cup appearances, scoring once.

From Fulham to Liverpool

Born in Torres Vedras, Portugal, Fábio Carvalho has deep links with Fulham. After his family had moved to England, and having played for Combined Counties League side Balham FC, Fábio Carvalho was handed a contract in 2015 by Fulham.

He was part of the Fulham Youth set up from the summer of 2018 as a 16-year-old. He then steadily moved up the ranks going to the U18 side, then on to the Fulham U21 squad.

In the summer of 2020 Carvalho was given a full contract with Fulham as he put pen to paper for two years. In total, he made six appearances in all competitions in the 2020/21 season, with one goal returned.

Liverpool snap up a bargain in Fábio Carvalho

Did Liverpool get themselves a bargain in Carvalho? The reported fee that the Reds paid was £5 million, with that potentially going up to around the £8 million mark because of bonuses and additional fees. But still, in the current climate, that could be a bargain if they get the quality they are expecting.

Carvalho is seen as one for the future by the Premier League giants and interestingly, he is rated at around £12 million. So with Liverpool taking their chance at snapping up the attack-minded player at less than half of his current market value, that’s some deal.

Fábio Carvalho’s style

Carvalho is an attacking midfielder, who can also operate on the wing. It is not a big stretch to see how he could thrive at Liverpool. Jürgen Klopp’s Reds play a very attack-minded fluid game, and that’s the arena in which Carvalho should thrive.

He has the pace to run at players and get beyond them, and his versatility to play in the middle or out wide will make him a nice option off the bench initially for Liverpool. From his figures at Fulham during the 2021/22 Championship season, Carvalho has a clear eye for goal too.

So a more central position would probably be ideal for the youngster, who mostly operated as a Number 10 for the Cottagers. Now the question ahead is just how much time he is going to be given by Jürgen Klopp? Could he even be sent back to Fulham on loan?

With Liverpool having operated for some time now with a front three, then it’s easy to understand why Carvalho has been targeted. He is a fledgling attacking talent and at just 19 years old, is something that Klopp can invest a lot of time in, to perfectly fit the Liverpool style.

Some notable Liverpool Transfer Fees

  • Roberto Firmino – €41.00m from Hoffenheim in 2015
  • Sadio Mané – €41.20m from Southampton in 2016
  • Mo Salah – €42.00m from Roma in 2017
  • Darwin Nunez – €75.00m from Benfica in 2022
  • Fábio Carvalho – €5.90m from Liverpool in 2022

A chance to impress

Liverpool have seen Sadio Mané depart for Bayern Munich this summer and there are rumours that Roberto Firmino could be on the way out of the door as well. Divock Origi was shipped out on a free transfer to Serie A champions AC Milan as well and Takumi Minimano was moved on to Monaco.

Liverpool are reshaping. Their power trio of Mo Salah, Firmino and Mané has been torn up. That’s probably not a bad thing for Carvalho.

Klopp has wasted no time in rebuilding his front line, however, bolstered by Salah signing a new contract at Anfield, putting transfer rumours to bed. Liverpool have also shelled out a lot of money for Darwin Nunez from Benfica, a deal reported to be around £85 million.

The arrival of Carvalho at Anfield further supports the evolution of Liverpool’s stance to continue with their thrilling brand of football. The Reds may not be done shopping for this summer either as they have been linked with another potentially exciting summer transfer.

Liverpool target Terrier?

The latest sports news have them potentially looking at Martin Terrier, who plays for Rennes in the French Ligue 1. Frenchmen Terrier, who had a good record for France U21 but has yet to earn a senior cap, has a transfer market value of around €25.00m.

Given that his stock value has skyrocketed this summer, Liverpool could end up paying a little more than that. The Reds could face competition for him with fellow Premier League side West Ham and Leicester both reportedly interested. But there looks to be an opportunity for Liverpool to further snap up a good young attacking bargain.

The 25-year-old Terrier is predominantly a left-sided attacking wide player who can also play on the opposite wing or in the main striker role. After a highly productive 2021/22 season with Rennes, scoring 21 goals from his wide role, Terrier would appear to be another natural fit for Liverpool’s rebuild.

He has that same trait of versatility too, just like Carvalho has. All of the changes that have happened already and could still potentially happen at Liverpool, does give Carvalho a chance of making an impression.

But there is a lot of work for the youngster to do to break into the regular starting eleven at last season’s Champions League and Premier League runners-up.

Will Fábio Carvalho make the 2022 World Cup?

Carvalho has yet to make a senior appearance for Portugal but could he work his way into the Portugal squad for their 2022 World Cup campaign? Potentially with a strong first half of the domestic season for his new club, maybe.

As a 19-year-old, there’s still plenty of time ahead for Carvalho, but the driving motivation of potentially going to Qatar 2022 could even raise his level. But that will all boil down once again to how much playing time Jürgen Klopp is going to trust the youngster with. Will he get enough to earn that big call-up?

A former England youth international, Fábio Carvalho opted for Portugal at the U21 level. He was not part of the set-up for the Esperanças that appeared at the 2021 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in which Portugal finished as runneers-up to Germany. But Carvalho was called up for the 2023 UEFA European Under-21 Championship Qualifiers in June.

Carvalho did spend a lot of time in the England youth ranks. He played at the U16, U17 and U18 levels with England before representing Portugal at the U21 level. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t still be a part of the England senior term, which means that Portugal may not want to hang around too long in giving him a chance.

Players can switch allegiances if they have played no more than three senior-level competitive matches, before turning 21 years of age. An exception is if one senior appearance is made in either the FIFA World Cup or the European Championships, then that would mean Carvalho would be locked down to however he plays for.

A bright future ahead

Fábio Carvalho is an exciting young talent. Liverpool have potentially snapped up a massive bargain, which they seem to have had a knack of doing. They only paid around €40 million each for Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané when they were all brought to the club.

With the silverware that each of those players have helped bring into Anfield during their respective stays at the club, it will leave Liverpool fans chomping at the bit to see what kind of future the likes of Fábio Carvalho and Darwin Nunez can deliver.