Manchester United officials were present at Sporting’s shocking 3-1 defeat at Rio Ave this Sunday.

Both A Bola and O Jogo are reporting that club scouts were sent to the match, although neither of the papers have identified who the targets were.

CapturarSporting were on top of the table before the fixture started, and the result came as a surprise, especially because Rio Ave went 3-0 ahead in the first half.

The only player involved in the game who’s been linked to Manchester United recently is William Carvalho. Recent claims, albeit weak, from Italy have suggested that José Mourinho would be interested in the midfielder.

Carvalho couldn’t do any better than the rest of his teammates and had an average match in midfield, getting a five rating from O Jogo.

Manchester United’s links to the player date back to 2014, when he started receiving attention from other European giants. He didn’t have a very good season in 2015/16, but seemed to get back in shape after a great Euro 2016 and is at the top level again since then.

A match that proved Carvalho’s good form was the Champions League tie against Real Madrid last week, in which, despite Sporting’s defeat, the player did well enough to balance the midfield for most of the time.

The 24-year-old has a €45m release clause, but Sporting must pay him €5m in case they reject bigger offers than €35m. If Mourinho is still struggling in midfield in January, or next summer, and can offload some of the various options he has, then Carvalho is an understandable target.

The pressure on Sporting to sell for €35m may well provide an interesting option for Mourinho. Manchester United scouts have watched the player repeatedly in recent seasons, and that looks like being the same this time around.