Which ‘Big Six’ club would Palhinha most improve?
Even after Sunday’s disappointing defeat to Arsenal, Fulham have widely exceeded expectations this season. Widely tipped for relegation, the Cottagers are well on course to finish in the top half of the Premier League table with Marco Silva and his players preparing for a clash with Manchester United in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Joao Palhinha has been a star for Fulham this season with the Portuguese international now proven as one of the best signings of last summer’s transfer window. Recent reports claim Palhinha will be targeted by several clubs this summer, so which ‘Big Six’ team would be the best fit for the central midfielder?
Arsenal strengthened their midfield in January with Jorginho making the move to the Emirates Stadium from Chelsea. The Gunners also targeted Moises Caicedo and are expected to return for the Brighton player at the end of the season. Nonetheless, Palhinha would be a good option for Mikel Arteta.
Palhinha would be a good deputy and rotational option behind Thomas Partey who is currently one of the most important players in Arsenal’s team. The 27-year-old is excellent at breaking up opposition moves and starting attacks from deep and that would make him a good fit for the side Arteta has built.
The 2022/23 season has been a difficult one for Liverpool and it seems likely a rebuild of the squad will start this summer with a primary focus on the midfield. Jude Bellingham is reportedly the Anfield club’s top target with Wolves’ Matheus Nunes also on their radar. Palhinha would also be a solid addition.
Stefan Bajcetic’s emergence has eased Liverpool’s need for a long-term successor to Fabinho with the young Spaniard already a key figure for the Reds, but Palhinha would give Jurgen Klopp some much-needed physicality to work with in the centre of the pitch. He would improve Liverpool, but wouldn’t be the entire solution to their problems.
Manchester United have made major strides forward under Erik Ten Hag this season and their midfield has improved arguably more than any other part of the team. Casemiro has raised standards across the board with Bruno Fernandes contributing and Christian Eriksen and Marcel Sabitzer adding something different.
Palhinha would add some more defensive steel to United’s midfield and would be capable of stepping in for Casemiro when the Brazilian is unavailable (through suspension, for instance), but Ten Hag might wish to find a ball carrier who can operate in the centre of the pitch before moving for the Fulham player.
Newcastle United might not be a traditional member of the Premier League’s ‘Big Six,’ but the Magpies are likely to enter the transfer market again this summer as they continue their development. Joao Palhinha would give Eddie Howe something he is currently lacking in his St James’ Park squad.
Bruno Guimaraes is an all-round midfielder while Joelinton is a driving force through the centre. However, Palhinha is an anchor in the way Newcastle United are currently lacking. His signing would also fit the bill for a club keen to secure undervalued talent to keep them within Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.
Antonio Conte is tipped to be on his way out of Tottenham Hotspur this summer which means a new manager will be hired to reshape the squad at the North London club. If Mauricio Pochettino is appointed, he will need midfield bodies and Palhinha would be an excellent anchor to build his team around.
Spurs’ lack of depth in central midfield has been exposed by how many games Oliver Skipp has played this season. Rodrigo Bentancur and Pierre-Emile Hjobjerg remain important performers while Pape Sarr has broken through in recent weeks, but Palhinha could make an immediate impact for Tottenham.