Wolverhampton Wanderers have Sporting Lisbon star Joao Palhinha ‘at the top’ of the priority list to strengthen their midfield.
Joao Palhinha, 25, returned to Sporting Lisbon last summer after spending two solid years on loan with SC Braga. The Portuguese defensive midfielder instantly became an integral member of Ruben Amorim’s side this past season as Sporting Lisbon won the Primeira Liga for the first time in 19 years.
The 25-year-old featured in 38 matches across all competitions, and his form for Sporting helped him to make his debut for Portugal in March. Currently, he is with Fernando Santos’ Portugal national team for the Euro 2020 campaign.
Wolves are the ‘most serious’ candidate to sign Palhinha, and while Sporting are reluctant to lose one of their key players this summer, it is understood the English club have been given a €30million valuation by the Portuguese champions.
Wolves replace Nuno with Bruno Lage at the club’s helm
The Wanderers have confirmed Bruno Lage as the club’s new head coach after Nuno Espirito Santo left the Molineux by mutual agreement. Nuno spent four years at Wolves, helping the club achieve top-flight promotion by winning the 2017/18 Championship title.
After two solid seasons back in the Premier League, Wolves suffered a difficult 2020/21 campaign, finishing in 13th place with 45 points. With Nuno gone, Bruno Lage faces the task of rebuilding the squad during the ongoing transfer window.
The Wanderers must fix their defensive problems
While Wolves have been a well-oiled, defensively robust side under Nuno since achieving promotion, things surprisingly fell apart last season. They looked disjointed and disorganised at the back, often being carved open by opposition teams.
The fact of the matter that the Wanderers conceded 52 goals in 38 games tells exactly why Bruno Lage must prioritise addressing his squad’s defensive problems. In addition to a central defender, they need a defensive midfielder, with none of Leander Dendoncker, Ruben Neves or Joao Moutinho enjoying the best of seasons in 2020/21.
The partnership of Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho has flourished in Wolves’ midfield, but the duo failed to control games as much as they would have liked to this past season. Also, with Neves on the radar of Arsenal and Moutinho in the final stages of his career at 34, the Black Country club could certainly do well by strengthening their midfield options.
Joao Palhinha could be a smart signing for Wolves
Joao Palhinha is coming off the best season of his career and rightly finds himself with the Portuguese squad for the Euro 2020 competition. He would fill an instant need at Wolves as a defensive midfielder, whilst adding some much-needed competition within Lage’s squad.
The Portuguese international excels in breaking the opposition’s play with his interception and tackling skills. A decent passer as well, Palhinha certainly ticks all the boxes to come through the door as a robust midfielder set to enter the best years of his career.
Wolves could look at the Sporting star as someone who could evolve into one of the club’s important cog in midfield in the years to come. All in all, Palhinha has the potential to make his presence felt in a more competitive league moving forward and Wolves must go all out to bag his signature this summer.
I am Rohan Sengupta from one of the busiest cities in India, Mumbai. A Journalism graduate with a keen interest in sports, football is something I simply cannot live without and writing, discussing and analyzing the game is what I do 24*7.