Manchester United Transfer News: Club 'Monitoring' Portugal Star

William Carvalho is admired by a host of top European clubs.
Sporting Lisbon midfielder William Carvalho at Alvalade stadium, Lisbon, Portugal, March 9, 2015. Carvalho is reportedly admired by Manchester United. Patricia de Melo/AFP/Getty Images

The mien around Manchester United has improved considerably in the past two weeks on the pitch, with a series of improved results and performances, and it may soon get a boost off the field, too.

Fichajes, the Portuguese news site, reports that United is tracking Sporting Lisbon's powerhouse midfielder William Carvalho, but faces competition from Real Madrid.

Carvalho, you may remember, was linked with Arsenal in the past two transfer windows, summer 2015 and January 2016, but the 23-year-old ended up staying in Portugal.

Carvalho remains an admirer of Arsenal — he expressed his "affection" for the club in October 2015 — and the club is still keen on the Portugal international.

But United will need a new defensive midfielder in the summer, with Michael Carrick yet to be offered a new contract.

Carvalho offers different skills from Carrick. He is more physical, more combative, and better at breaking up play, qualities that United perhaps lacks in its midfield right now.

He suffers in the Carrick comparison in terms of passing range, but, with skilful players around him, that is arguably less important than the destructive influence he would provide. With N'Golo Kante, English Premier League leader Leicester City has proved how important it is to have a hard tackler in the centre of the pitch to win the ball back for the team's attacking players.

A stumbling block could be Carvalho's release clause, which stands at 45 million euros ($49 million). That has reportedly put off Valencia, managed by Gary Neville, the former United player.

That leaves Real Madrid, Arsenal and United competing for one of Europe's most exciting and heralded young prospects, with the two English clubs "closely monitoring the situation" according to Fichajes.

He will not come cheap, but Carvalho would be a glittering prize for anyone prepared to dig deep enough into their pockets.

Manchester United Transfer News: Club 'Monitoring' Portugal Star | Sports