Friday, September 29, 2023

Wolves Facing Fierce Competition In Pursuit Of This Liga NOS Midfielder: Is He Worth The Fight?

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Abhinab Ghosh
A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.

In a recent print edition, the Irish Daily Mirror has mentioned that Wolverhampton Wanderers are facing fierce competition in pursuit of Sporting Lisbon midfielder Joao Palhinha this summer. It has been stated that Wolves will be joined by CSKA Moscow in the race to land the Lisboa-born talent during this summer transfer window (via The Irish Daily Mirror).

Palhinha’s Recent Emergence In Portuguese Football

The 25-year-old impressed during his loan spell with SC Braga last season as he produced a string of dominant displays as the primary holding midfielder in Carlos Carvalhal’s first-team. He managed to net four goals and provide one assist in 44 matches for the Portuguese outfit in the previous campaign across all fronts.

More importantly, the Portuguese midfielder found some consistency with his performances at the centre of the park after averaging 2.8 tackles, 0.9 interceptions, 1.0 clearances and 0.7 dribbles per game in the Liga NOS and the UEFA Europa League last season. Palhinha retained possession well for his team in the middle of the field as he completed 84.4% of his attempted passes in the top tier of Portuguese football (stats via whoscored).

The ex-Sacavenense youth player has often been deployed in the defensive midfield position, but can even operate as a centre-back if required. His versatility, coupled with his tenacity to win the ball back for his side, makes him an intelligent option for Nuno Espirito Santo to consider before the new Premier League season gets underway next month.

Wolves facing fierce competition in pursuit of João Palhinha who is in action for Braga in the picture
Joao Palhinha of Braga is tackled by Florian Kamberi of Rangers FC during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg match between Sporting Braga and Rangers FC at Estadio Municipal de Braga on February 26, 2020, in Braga, Portugal. (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

What Does The Portuguese Midfield Ace Offer On The Field?

Palhinha has got the strength to overpower the opposition and dominate the midfield battle, but lacks the pace to cover too much ground inside his half. The midfield powerhouse can win his fair share of aerial duels as he has got a great leap in him that allows him to jump higher than the opponent. The Portuguese midfield enforcer loves a tackle and can make a few crucial interceptions at the back. He is often there in the right place at the right time to deal with the danger, but can be exposed when the opposition team decide to launch a fast break on the counter.

Is Palhinha Worth The Fight?

Palhinha is far from a complete midfielder, but he can still provide decent protection for the backline which could make him a shrewd buy for Wolves if they can win the race for him this summer. He will bring some stability to Nuno Espirito Santo’s midfield and add some serious competition for Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho, Leander Dendoncker and Morgan Gibbs-White for a regular midfield spot in the West Midlands club’s first-team.

At 25, Palhinha is currently playing at his prime, but he has still got a lot of room for improvement in his game. Maybe the Wolves manager could be the perfect man to get the best out of him as he shares the same nationality with the player. Plus, the influx of Portuguese speaking players will only improve the chemistry of Nuno Santo’s squad in the coming seasons. Hence, Palhinha is well worth the fight as the Midlands giants try to beat off CSKA Moscow in pursuit of his signature in this off-season.

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