Fulham have made a fast start to life back in the Championship, with last night’s 2-1 win against Millwall seeing them keep their spot at the top of the table.
Three games into his Craven Cottage tenure, Marco Silva remains unbeaten and is already looking like a very shrewd appointment.
Silva has been helped by the form of 18-year-old attacking midfielder Fabio Carvalho, who has repaid the trust put in him by his manager in the opening few weeks of the campaign.
But there remains uncertainty surrounding the teenager’s future as he’s in the final year of his contract and has rejected Fulham’s initial offer of an extension.
On top of that, Leeds United, Norwich City, Porto, and West Ham United have all been linked with him this summer.
With a few weeks left of the window, we’ve put a spotlight on Carvalho’s performances in 2021/22 to examine why the likes of Leeds and West Ham are keen on Fulham’s rising star…
Carvalho’s emergence began last season, seeing the teenager make his debut in September 2020 and play 296 minutes of senior football across six appearances for the west London club.
That three games into the 2021/22 campaign, the playmaker has already played 269 minutes shows the faith that Silva has put in him this season, faith that has been handsomely rewarded.
The 18-year-old has started all three of Fulham’s Championship games in the number 10 role behind Aleksandar Mitrovic, with his confidence and quality in possession clear to see throughout.
Two goals and an assist in three games is a healthy return for Carvalho but those statistics only go part of the way to illustrating how effective he has been.
Carvalho’s agility and fast feet make him an excellent ball carrier, with his seven progressive runs this term (Wyscout) an illustration of how well he’s driven his side up the pitch.
According to The Analyst, he’s carried the ball 11 times each game on average this term and has the sixth-highest average carry distance (13.17m) in the division while only two Championship players have turned carries into chances created more times than him.
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The issue for opposition sides is that he’s far more than just a dangerous dribbler. Carvalho’s distribution has been excellent this term, seeing him connect with 87% of his passes (Wyscout) – including 100% of those into the final third and 87.5% of those into the penalty area.
But it is in and around the box that the playmaker has really dazzled. His 17 touches in the penalty area are evidence of the dangerous positions he is constantly picking up and what a nuisance he causes opposition defences.
Often up-and-coming players will pick up the right positions and not be able to capitalise but that’s not an issue Carvalho has had this term.
As well as having 10 shots himself, five of which have hit the target, he’s already provided 11 shot assists to his teammates.
At the age of 18, the attacking midfielder is already proving a matchwinner in the Championship and will likely only become more effective as he continues to grow in confidence.
His contract situation looks as though it might offer the likes of Leeds and West Ham the rare chance to capture a rising star, so it’s no wonder they’re interested as we head toward the end of the window.