Man Utd must pay £20m for 26 y/o averaging a tackle or interception every 18 mins

Manchester United are fourth in the Premier League for most yellow (55) and red cards (2), seventh in the league for most fouls made per game (10.4) and sixth in the league for average possession per game (53.4%), so they could benefit from a player who can turn over the ball without relinquishing possession.

Tom Hopkinson of the Mirror believes they may have identified that man – Joao Palhinha. The 26-year-old plays for Sporting CP and recently signed a new deal at the Estádio José Alvalade until 2026, but it’s believed his contract was extended so Sporting can hike up his asking price. Palhinha has a release clause of £50m but will be granted a departure for around £20m.

Man Utd could be getting a bargain acquisition, as the Portuguese international has won 32/47 aerial duels, averaged a tackle (62) or interception (19) every 18 minutes, made 13/23 successful dribbles, blocked 28 shots/passes/crosses, made 22 clearances, won 48 freekicks and completed 86.6% of his passes from 19 Liga NOS games this season.

Ralf Rangnick has Scott McTominay, Nemanja Matic and Fred who can occupy more defensive roles in midfield, but Palhinha would greatly improve the squad. In his 19 league appearances, Sporting have picked up 14 wins, conceded 11 goals and kept 11 clean sheets.

United are ninth in the league for goals conceded (34) and 11th for most shots faced (13.3), so their defence could do with more protection. Newcastle United have also been linked with Palhinha, so there may be a bidding war taking place over the summer. Time will tell.

Summary

Palhinha has all the attributes to be a good holding midfielder for United, but they’re yet to make an official approach. And he won’t break the bank if they do lodge a bid, so there are more pros than for signing him.