Manchester United flew to London to try and sign teenage Fabio Carvalho, but Liverpool get their hands on star who ‘has an aura’ that’s drawn comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe

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The beginning of the 2021/22 Championship season had a familiar feel to it as Fulham raced away at the top.

Fulham were at the summit after five matches played with an impressive 13 points. Their exciting attack netted 13 goals in the process, too.

Fabio Carvalho had Fulham fans purring in the 2021/22 season

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Fabio Carvalho had Fulham fans purring in the 2021/22 season

At the heart of this dynamic forward play was attacking midfielder Fabio Carvalho, who was aged just 18 when the campaign started.

A return of ten goals and eight assists to cap off the campaign is not half of it. Carvalho, who had signed his first professional contract just two years ago, was making experienced professionals look like novices having most notably run rings around Millwall’s defense in a 2-1 win at the Den in August.

HMS P *** the League memes were being bandied about by some Fulham fans online, and with good reason too as they earned promotion back to the Premier League, who won the Championship in relative comfort.

Results dropped off for Marco Silva’s side after Carvalho sustained a toe injury in early September. Defeats to Blackpool, Reading as well as a collapse at Coventry created some uncertainty in their promotion bid.

Minus a run of five league matches without a win between November and December, Carvalho’s return also saw Fulham’s precession back into the big time.

However, there are fears among Cottagers fans that their club will true to form in recent years head straight back down, especially as it has been confirmed Carvalho, now 19 years old, is now a Liverpool player.


Carvalho will sign for Liverpool on July 1

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Carvalho will sign for Liverpool on July 1

Premier League matches are often decided by a moment of magic from players that have that X factor, which Carvalho has in abundance, explains one of his former coaches at London-based Balham FC, Greg Cruttwell.

Crutwell told talkSPORT.com: “He appeared on Clapham Common, I was running a training session with another coach, Ollie Kanner. We worked together at Balham and Fabio, who was aged 10 or 11 at the time, came up with his mum and joined in the session.

“After 30 seconds when we first pinged a ball to him, he pinged it back and we just looked at each other and our jaws hit the ground and thought ‘hello, this kid looks pretty good’.

“In that session he was fantastic and immediately you could see that he’s got the X factor. He was magic on the ball, he had great agility and movement so obviously we told him to come along to more training sessions! ”

Carvalho has a Premier League goal to his name too, netting in a defeat to Southampton in the 2020/21 season

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Carvalho has a Premier League goal to his name too, netting in a defeat to Southampton in the 2020/21 season

As the stirring displays in training and matches continued, it was no surprise when professional clubs came knocking.

Chelsea and Arsenal were both ‘very keen’ to land this precocious talent, Liverpool showed an interest, while Manchester United even flew down from Carrington to meet Crutwell about Carvalho.

Fulham were the lucky club to get their hands on Carvalho, who Crutwell says is still the same as the ‘humble’ boy he crossed paths with all those years ago.

But for what Carvalho is lacking in arrogance he isn’t lacking in ambition, having been quoted saying he wants to challenge for the Ballon d’Or in the next few years.

Carvalho (bottom left) as a youngster in Balham colors - the kit bearing some resemblance to Fulham's colors

balham fc

Carvalho (bottom left) as a youngster in Balham colors – the kit bearing some resemblance to Fulham’s colors

He's got his eyes on getting to the top of football

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He’s got his eyes on getting to the top of football

Crutwell insists Carvalho knows this will take a huge amount of hard work but adds the Portugal-born player has an ‘aura’ the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo no doubt have.

On Carvalho being a potential Ballon d’Or contender, Crutwell added: “Why not? You’ve got to aim high, haven’t you?

“I’m sure he’s said that and that’s surely the ultimate ambition for any kind of player, especially a playmaker. I’m sure he realises there are plenty of hurdles to get through before you get there. As long as he stays lucky with injury, the world is his oyster. He definitely has the X factor.

“What you also need, and I’m sure Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe all have it but when you meet Fabio he lights up a room. His smile lights up a room. He comes in and shakes your hand and you think there’s something about him, he has an aura.

“I’ve worked with a lot of good players but he’s just got that X factor and that little something.”

Carvalho was born in Lisbon but has played for England at under-16, under-17 and under-18 level

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Carvalho was born in Lisbon but has played for England at under-16, under-17 and under-18 level

Achieving all that at Craven Cottage was unlikely though. But at Anfield Carvalho now has the ideal platform to show if he’s got what it takes to reach the top.

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