Ex-Southampton midfielder Carlton Palmer has warned his former side that the influence of agents on Fabio Carvalho could potentially scupper a move to St Mary’s, sounding this siren in an interview with This is Futbol.
Carvalho, 19, performed well in the early stages of the season, scoring three goals and recording one assist in the Cottagers’ opening four league games but failing to build on that since then after being ruled out of action with a toe injury.
Since then, he also tested positive for Covid-19 which proved to be a setback in his bid to get back to playing regular first-team football under Marco Silva but has been available for selection in the last three games.
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Despite currently being kept out of the starting lineup by more experienced players in Harry Wilson, Neeskens Kebano and Bobby Decordova-Reid, all of whom are currently in good form, interest in the teenager’s services have failed to subside with teams from across Europe monitoring his situation.
Although former Champions League winners Barcelona have gone ahead and reportedly launched an offer to lure him to Spain, Football League World understands Premier League sides Liverpool and Southampton are also firmly in the running for his signature.
Their pursuit will be boosted by the attacking midfielder’s recent rejection of fresh terms at Craven Cottage, with the Fulham starlet set to switch agency in January and will not consider accepting a contract extension until then.
But despite this boost for the Saints, their former man Palmer believes the role of Carvalho’s agents could be detrimental to the top-tier side’s chances of signing him amid interest from the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Speaking to This is Futbol, the 55-year-old said: “The advantage [of Carvalho going to Southampton] is playing, but the agents are running the game now.
“So, you know, it’s whether he gets advised correctly by his agent.”
The time to judge Carvalho will be when his new set of representatives are in place in January, because that could help the Cottagers come to an agreement with the teenager knowing he has the agents behind him to get him the best possible deal.
Whether this delaying tactic is really due to this transition remains to be seen, but his side ideally need more certainty on his situation before the winter window opens to minimise off-field distractions.
With Fulham in pole position to win automatic promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking, a solution to this situation could be crucial in maintaining performance levels and potentially boosting them further.
The Cottagers’ professionalism can’t be doubted after fighting back well from setbacks earlier in the season and getting back into the top two, but noise off the pitch regarding their most talented youngster’s future will inevitably cause concern in the Fulham camp and potentially have an effect on their performances.
For Carvalho, Southampton would be a better option than most if he was to move, with the likelihood of receiving more first-team chances. But staying at his current side for the next couple of years might be his best bet, with Silva already knowing him well and the west London side looking set to return to the top flight on their current trajectory.