Manchester United should pay attention as Sporting boss admits Joao Palhinha could leave

A top defensive midfielder could suddenly be available this month, who Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes know very well.

Sporting midfielder Joao Palhinha faces an uncertain future before the deadline, with manager Ruben Amorim admitting he could leave.

Quoted by newspaper O Jogo, Amorim said: “Football has things that we do not control, we know that the situation of the club and the country has not changed that much. I count on Palhinha and I hope he continues.”

Quizzed if claims from Record were true, that Palhinha could be available for just 30 million Euros, Amorim responded: “That’s not my thing anymore, I look more at the technical-tactical part. Palhinha is sorely missed, but whatever happens we’ll resolve the sporting part.”

Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images


United should put Sporting to the test

Top quality defensive midfielders are not often available, and Palhinha is in the upper-echelons of possible options for the position.

Indeed when you consider that his potential price, around £25 million, is one-quarter of the fee required for Declan Rice, then Palhinha looks extremely good value.

Palhinha is Portugal’s first choice defensive midfielder, a real specialist at the position, who is used to playing with Bruno Fernandes, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Diogo Dalot.

This season Palhinha is averaging 3.4 tackles per game in the Primeira Liga, the joint third-highest in the division [per FBRef]. He has also scored three goals.

The 26-year-old is set to enter his peak years and any club moving for Palhinha would be signing a player at the top of their game.

Palhinha has a release clause in his contract of around 60m Euros (£51m), and Record reported last summer they would insist any interested club pays it. Their stance seems to have softened somewhat since.

Fernandes assist?

Sporting are currently locked in a battle with UEFA which could see them banned from European competitions.

Mais Futebol reported yesterday Sporting are in dispute over a fee owed to Sampdoria for Bruno Fernandes in relation to the profit they made from selling him to Manchester United.

The dispute has been to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which last November ruled against Sporting, who still fight the outcome and insist finances have been paid.

Sporting have until the end of the month to resolve the matter, UEFA say, or face punishment. A ban would mean them being kicked out of the Champions League, where they are set to face City.

Photo by PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images

All this could end up impacting financial decisions based on Palhinha’s future, and United would be smart to ask the question.

United are reluctant to sign players now, preferring to defer to a new boss until the summer, but there surely have to be some exceptions the club are willing to make, if the right players become available.

Considering United’s needs, Palhinha should be one of the players the Red Devils should make an exception for, and make Fernandes and Ronaldo very happy in the process too.

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