In a recent print edition, Record has claimed that Wolverhampton Wanderers are in pole position to land Sporting CP midfielder Joao Palhinha but have still not launched a ‘concrete proposal’ for him this summer. It is believed that a potential transfer is still on the cards with the Portuguese midfield ace eager to make a switch to the Premier League which could open the door for Wolves to recruit him in this off-season (transcripted and translated by Sport Witness).
Palhinha’s Majestic Rise In Portugal
The two-time Portugal U-20 international experienced a fruitful two-year loan spell with SC Braga as he managed to establish himself as a key component in Carlos Carvalhal’s midfield. Palhinha found the back of the net on four occasions and provided one assist in 44 matches for the Portuguese side last season on all fronts.
The Lisboa-born midfield enforcer has left his mark at both ends of the field after averaging 2.8 tackles, 0.9 interceptions, 1.0 clearances and 0.7 dribbles per 90 minutes in the Liga NOS and the UEFA Europa League. Plus, the Sporting youth product has been neat and tidy with his ball-distribution based on his pass completion rate of 84.4% in top-flight football (stats via whoscored).
The 25-year-old has shown that he is capable of providing adequate protection for his teammates at the back but needs to improve his creativity in the opposition half. Palhinha was mainly asked to operate as a holding midfielder last season, but he is versatile enough to fill in as a centre-back if required which could make a valuable squad player for any top club across Europe.
What Will The Portuguese Midfielder Bring To The Molineux Stadium?
Palhinha has made a habit of outmuscling the opposition in the air using his remarkable upper-body strength and is also skilled at earning possession back for his side in midfield. He is often quick to respond to the danger and is not shy of clearing his lines when being closed down by the opponent. However, he lacks the pace to get up and down the field which can make him vulnerable defensively if the opposition opts to launch a fast counter-attack.
Palhinha has still got a lot to learn before he is ready to play in the Premier League week in week out. However, there is no doubt that his powerful presence in the middle of the park will be welcomed at a club like Wolves as Nuno Espirito Santo currently lacks some bite and steel in his midfield department. The likes of Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho, Leander Dendoncker and Morgan Gibbs-White are all technically gifted midfielders, but they can sometimes be a bit fragile when defending deep inside their half.
Hence, a midfield powerhouse like Palhinha will be a shrewd signing for the West Midlands outfit ahead of the new campaign. He might not have the technical qualities of Neves and Moutinho but is more than capable of anchoring the Wolves midfield so that they have a bit more stability in defence for the coming seasons.