Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has tipped Victor Lindelof to follow the career trajectory of his former protege Ricardo Carvalho despite a difficult start to life at Old Trafford.
Lindelof is set to make only his second appearance for United, who he joined from Benfica in a £31m transfer during the summer, in Tuesday’s Champions League opener against Basel.
He has not even come off the bench since an uncertain debut in the European Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid more than a month ago but is set to partner Chris Smalling at centre-back in the absence of first-choice pairing Phil Jones and Eric Bailly, who are both suspended.
Mourinho insists Carvalho, too, needed time to acclimatise to English football and believes the 22-year-old Sweden international can emulate the former Portugal, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Porto stalwart.
“Victor is an intelligent kid, he is very calm and of course he wants to play,” he said.
“We take it step by step. [At Chelsea] we had one of the best central defenders in the Premier League’s last decade, Ricardo Carvalho, and when he arrived from Portugal he was in trouble a little bit to adapt.
“Then he had an amazing career in the Premier League after that and I am sure Victor will be the same.
“So it is good for him to play in the Champions League and probably he won’t play at the weekend, but he will play again next week in the [Carabao] Cup, so matches are coming for him.”
Mourinho plans to stick with No1 goalkeeper David de Gea in all competitions, meaning he will face Basel on United’s return to the Champions League following a 644-day exile.
Midfielder Marouane Fellaini, however, is a doubt with the calf injury that kept him out of Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Stoke in the Premier League.
“He is a very important player for me, much more important than you can imagine,” he added.
“I feel weaker without Fellaini in my squad; it doesn’t matter if it’s on the pitch or on the bench. So if his condition improves then he will be selected, because I need him but at the moment.”