Wolverhampton Wanderers may have made a big mistake choosing not to sign now-Fulham midfielder João Palhinha.
The 26-year-old made the move to Fulham from Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon in a reported deal worth £17m.
Wolves were in talks to bring Palhinha to Molineux this summer, and it is reported that the West Midlands club would have beaten the London side to the midfielder’s signature this summer, if they had offered him a contract.
Bruno Lage’s side went on to bring multiple midfield reinforcements in before the transfer window’s closure, in that of Matheus Nunes from the same side for £38m, and Metz’s Boubacar Traoré on a season-long loan with whom they have option purchase for £9.5m at the end of the season.
But after Palhinha’s incredibly successful start to life at Craven Cottage, have the men from Molineux made a mistake?
The Lisbon-born midfielder, who has been described as “the destroyer” by journalist Daniel Storey, has already scored two goals in seven Premier League appearances according to Transfermarkt, including a rocket in the club’s last fixture in a 3-2 win at Nottingham Forest.
It’s more than just his goalscoring record though, with the 14-time Portugal international ranking in the top 1% of midfielders across Europe’s top five leagues and European competition for pressures per 90 minutes (27.24), and tackles per 90 (3.98) according to FBref.
He’s been a combative presence in the middle of the park for the Cottagers, having made a combined 38 tackles and interceptions according to the same stats provider, which is maybe something Wolves have been missing this season.
An average SofaScore rating of 7.13 for his performances in the Premier League this season rank the midfielder as the club’s second-highest performing player behind Aleksandar Mitrovic this season, suggesting he has proved to be a stunning signing for Marco Silva’s side.
Whilst Nunes and Traoré may prove to be excellent signings for Lage’s side in the long-term, there can be no doubt that Wolves have missed out on a steal in Palhinha, who has helped fire Fulham up into sixth-place in the Premier League table after seven games this season, whilst the West Midlands side are floundering in 17th, having won just one game so far this campaign.