Defensive midfielder Joao Palhinha continues to show why he would be a quality signing for Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The 26-year-old was mentioned as a priority signing early in the window, but a move didn’t come to fruition, as reported by A Bola in June.
That has left Bruno Lage with three senior central midfielders, Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho and Leander Dendoncker, after Morgan Gibbs-White was allowed to leave on loan to Sheffield United.
Palhinha has started the season in impressive form for Sporting Lisbon and although other clubs across Europe will be chasing his signature, Wolves have got to try and use their Portuguese connections as a way of swaying the 26-year-old to come to Molineux.
Palhinha shining domestically
After playing a big role in Sporting Lisbon’s charge to the league title last season, Palhinha’s side remain undefeated in Liga NOS so far in this campaign and trail league leaders Benfica by one point.
According to WhoScored, the Portuguese international is currently rated as the fourth best player in the league so far this season.
In his role of protecting the team’s defence, only Moreirense’s Fabio Pacheco (3.9) currently averages more tackles per game than Palhinha (3.8) in the Portuguese league.
In comparison, Wolves’ starting duo Neves and Moutinho currently average 2.4 and 1.9 tackles per game respectfully.
At 6ft 2inches, Palhinha averages winning 2.3 aerial duels per game for Sporting. He is also one of the most fouled players in Portuguese football, he currently averages winning 2.9 fouls per game, only five players average more.
Prior to this season, Palhinha had only scored four goals from 56 matches, but he has already scored twice this season after finding the net in back-to-back league matches in August.
He has the attributes to improve to both Wolves’ attacking and defensive sides of the game.
Future move for Palhinha
The eight-time Portuguese international has been called up for his nation’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers this month.
However, whilst Sporting are prospering domestically, they are having a torrid time in Europe.
A crushing defeat to Ajax and a 1-0 loss to Dortmund leaves the Portuguese giants bottom of their group and facing an uphill task of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League.
With a contract until 2025 (Transfermarkt), luring Palhinha away from Sporting is going to prove costly.
But with Moutinho now 35 years old, Lage is going to want to revamp his midfield and bring in quality reinforcements.
An all Portuguese midfield trio of Neves, Palhinha and Renato Sanches at Molineux would be a mouth-watering prospect and it could be a realistic prospect.
Sanches, who recently returned from injury ,and Palhinha may seek new challenges, and Wolves need to make sure they can do all they can to bring the pair to the Black Country.
The duo are capable of taking the club to the next level and Palhinha in particular has shrugged off a summer of transfer rumours and has started the season impressively.