João Palhinha and the Missed Opportunity

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Midfield Revamp: An Urgent Necessity

So many names have crept into the Liverpool gossip pages over the past six months, ever since the Anfield giants finally decided to regenerate their midfield, one which was looking old and tired. Despite the recruitment team undertaking a solid job in their summer efforts, it must only be seen as a start to what is still needed to ensure job completion. I am of the belief that continual turnover and squad additions are now needed more than ever if sustained success and growth can be achieved within the Premier League. This celebrated division of play represents the toughest sporting enterprise on the planet, with a congested fixture list that only ever relents (during the campaign) for many of the league’s players to head off for international duties. Summer breaks are fleeting, as the need for international tournaments engulfs the off season at least every two years, while the likes of the Copa America, Asia Cup, Olympics, and African Cup of Nations are all additional factors within a well-paid, yet rigorous sporting career.

What Do Liverpool Still Need Within the Midfield Overhaul?

You must only consider the failed £115m bid for Brighton’s former enforcer, Moisés Caicedo, on top of the embarrassing £55m bid that was eventually offered to Southampton for their former prodigy, Roméo Lavia, to see what was wanted more than most. Both those players ended up at Chelsea, with Stamford Bridge’s continued desire to ignore financial fair play, whereas profit and sustainability seem to be foreign to their endeavours. Despite both players struggling at their new club, there is absolutely no doubt that either player would succeed at Anfield, given the level of coaching and stability that would match their undoubted abilities. The last-ditch addition of Wataru Endō, from Stuttgart, was nothing more than a stop-gap to what was needed most, which is an elite-level ball winner that can complete a midfield which desperately needs balance.

Is João Palhinha the Man to Make That Difference?

Despite recent reports stating that Liverpool are not in the hunt for João Palhinha, I hope that is more of a smokescreen and safety-first approach to the upcoming transfer window. We have all seen in the recent past how overconfident words and statements have led to the failure to land Virgil van Dijk (for half a season), before the campaign to sign Moisés Caicedo failed miserably. I would imagine that the interim Sporting Director, Jörg Schmadtke, is busily making calls and trying to engineer all sorts of deals and contingencies so that all January bases are covered. There is a certainty that both Bayern Munich and Arsenal will be looking at the situation of the Fulham defensive midfielder, whereas the likes of Newcastle and Manchester United could become viable parties at some point. For Liverpool to openly state their interest in a specific player would be against the strategy of the club, with so many cards held close to their chest. To openly covet outside assets would also undermine the current roster of players within the Anfield dressing room, as Wataru Endō, Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott, and Ryan Gravenberch, are each still battling to attain a starting spot. The loyalty and commitment of each player are always matched by their German manager; therefore, I am not overly worried if before such a critical week of games, Liverpool are distancing themselves away from potential new players.

João Palhinha: A Detailed Look

  • Club: Fulham
  • Nationality: Portugal
  • Age: 28 years old, DOB: 09/08/1995
  • Height: 6ft 3inch
  • Weight: 77kg
  • Career appearances & goals: 295 / 21
  • Career minutes played: 21,806
  • Contract Expiry: June 30, 2028 (1-year option)
  • Projected Cost of Deal: £55m

The statistical analysis, eye test, physical attributes, and intelligence in shielding the backline of his team make the Portuguese international a near-perfect addition to Liverpool Football Club. The only downside is the age of the player, which should be overlooked, given the reasonable number of games and minutes he has undertaken in his career, alongside the continual availability he offers away from injuries. I am certain that the Reds will be active in the January transfer window, essentially as they were willing to shatter their transfer record in the summer for a specific player. By not achieving that desire and now sitting primed to fight for silverware across all competitions, I cannot see a scenario where Jürgen Klopp does not demand what is required. The most recent summer of change has altered his mindset and he is now determined to create a second successful team. The injuries to Andy Robertson, Joël Matip, Thiago Alcântara, Stefan Bajčetić, Alexis Mac Allister, Diogo Jota, and now Ryan Gravenberch, means numbers are tightening and results will inevitably fall away. One or two smart signings (next month) could realign the group and allow a full-frontal assault on the Premier League, which I hope means the signing of Fulham’s brilliant and standout player, João Palhinha.

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