Manchester United have been handed a boost in landing Sporting Lisbon midfielder Joao Palhinha ahead of the summer transfer window, according to Portuguese outlet O Jogo (today’s edition, page 17).
The Red Devils are widely expected to pursue a top-class defensive midfielder. It was reported by The Mirror recently that they have watched Palhinha at least ‘eight times’.
The midfielder signed a new deal in December last year with a £50 million release clause but could be available for significantly less this summer.
O Jogo have added to the story in today’s edition by claiming that Palhinha could be sold for between £25-33 million amid the Red Devils’ interest.
Palhinha has developed into one of the leading defensive midfielders in Portugal. He only made his international debut last year but has already earned 12 caps.
The 26-year-old is currently playing to the best of his abilities. He has averaged an impressive 3.3 tackles and one interception per league game while winning 1.7 aerial duels.
Hence, he would be a solid upgrade on the current defensive midfield options at United. Scott McTominay, Fred and Nemanja Matic have all been inconsistent with their performances.
Matic has looked the player of old lately with impressive distribution, but the 33-year-old is no longer in his prime. His limited mobility could be considered another potential drawback.
Palhinha has yet to play outside of Portugal in his club career but has shown that he can excel against Premier League clubs, having recently impressed against Manchester City in the Champions League.
Sporting conceded five goals in the round of 16 first leg, but Palhinha stood out with his showing, winning 10 aerial and ground duels, four tackles and completing 89 per cent of his passes.
United may need to move fast to secure his services. While they have a good working relationship with Sporting, Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers are also interested.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com and SofaScore.com.
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