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Fulham or Wolverhampton Wanderers – Where does Joao Palhinha fit best amongst both clubs?

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With the summer transfer window having officially opened, clubs across Europe remain on an active hunt to secure their targets ahead of the upcoming campaign. While the likes of Manchester City, Aston Villa, and Arsenal, among others, officially announced their first signing of the summer, the Premier League’s mid-table clubs too, are expected to get on the act soon.

Having shown tremendous potential in recent seasons, the likes of West Ham, Aston Villa, and Wolves, amongst others, are likely to bolster their squads this summer. Moreover, with established talents such as Joao Palhinha expected to secure ambitious moves, the Portuguese midfielder’s suitors will be keen on acquiring his services for next season.

With Wolverhampton Wanderers and newly promoted Fulham having been reportedly interested in his services, the 26-year-old seems likely to make a Premier League switch this summer. Valued at £17mn by Primeira Liga club Sporting Lisbon, the defensive midfielder boasts attributes likely to help him succeed in England’s top-flight whilst providing him with a platform to showcase his talents moving into the prime years of his career.

The Anchor – Wolves

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With Ruben Neves likely to leave the club provided a suitor meets his valuation and Joao Moutinho’s contract situation still uncertain, a move to Wolves could see Palhinha fulfil his potential under Bruno Lage’s tutelage. Although generally deployed as a defensive midfielder, the 26-year-old’s ability to supplement the attack near the 18-yard-box combined with his physical strength in midfield could see Wolves develop a refreshing and dynamic midfield this summer.

While Palhinha lacks pace, the midfielder makes up for it in his positional play, aerial domination, and ability to find targets with his versatile passing range. Amongst the most engaged tacklers at Sporting Lisbon, the 26-year-old ranks in the 85th percentile for possession-adjusted interceptions. Moreover, being a vocal player on the pitch alongside boasting the ability to orchestrate an attack from a deep-lying role, a move to Wolves could see the player utilised in a comparably versatile role considering Lage’s tactics last season.

Disciplined to his role and possessing an awareness of his position vis-à-vis the tactics deployed during the game, Palhinha emerges as a seamless fit at the heart of Wolves’ midfield. Additionally, being press resistant whilst remaining a tenacious yet composed tackler, the Portuguese international could emerge as a vital component of Lage’s ambitions next season.

The Indispensable – Fulham

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Having gained promotion to the Premier League under Marco Silva’s management, Fulham will be keen on avoiding relegation next season. Although expected to be involved in a relegation battle, the Londoners are likely to bolster their squad, with reports having suggested the club’s willingness to hijack Palhinha’s expected move to Wolves this summer. With the current manager, Marco Silva, boasting substantial knowledge of Portuguese football, a move to the newly-promoted side could certainly materialise as Fulham look to invest in quality personnel ahead of the new season.

While the Portuguese is likely to establish himself as a first-team regular at Fulham, the club’s continued failure to avoid relegation following repeated promotions is likely to emerge as a warning sign for the Portuguese. A regular international alongside having been a pivotal part of Ruben Amorim’s tenure at Sporting Lisbon, the midfielder could certainly catalyse Fulham’s midfield but is unlikely to fulfil his potential at the club.

Moreover, given Wolves’ commendable history in successfully acquiring their Portuguese targets, a late attempt at luring Palhinha to Fulham remains unlikely. Expected to seek a platform to best showcase his potential, Wolves remain the club most suited to his ambition while a move to Fulham could see him become an indispensable part of the first-team line-up, however, at the cost of securing a dream move over the coming years.

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