An update has emerged regarding Leicester’s interest in Sporting Lisbon midfielder Joao Palhinha.
According to Portuguese outlet A Bola, as transcribed by Sport Witness, Leicester have joined the list of clubs looking at the 25-year-old. The Foxes have been alerted to his potential availability and are now competing for his signature alongside Everton, Tottenham and Wolves.
Sporting want to keep hold of Palhinha and have not lost hope of being able to do so. However, they would be willing to do business if a club meets their £26m (€30m) valuation of the Portuguese international.
Sporting boss Ruben Amorim lavished praise on the “special” midfielder earlier this year. He told Record: “I gave him the script of maturity and the difference of four years. Jorge Jesus used the Palhinha of four years ago, I use the Palhinha of now.
“The credit belongs to Palhinha, that grew up that way. I often tell Palhinha that he is very good without the ball and with the ball. More than a tactical coach, I get it in Palhinha’s head that he is a special player.”
Earlier this month, Newcastle were reported to be interested in signing Hamza Choudhury from Leicester this summer, so it is time for the Foxes to say bye-bye to the 23-year-old and hello to Palhinha to bolster Brendan Rodgers’ squad in the coming months. Leicester must allow Choudhury to move on and then replace him with Palhinha as it could turn out to be a significant upgrade in midfield and improve the club’s chances of securing a Champions League spot in the Premier League next season.
Palhinha enjoyed a sublime season for Sporting in Liga NOS. He averaged an exceptional WhoScored rating of 7.22 across 32 appearances in the division, whilst Choudhury earned an average rating of 6.19 in 10 Premier League matches for Leicester last season.
The Foxes man averaged 0.8 tackles and 0.4 interceptions per game as a holding midfielder and Palhinha dwarfed those figures with 3.3 tackles and 1.5 interceptions per game for Sporting. This suggests that the Portugal ace would be a sizeable improvement on Choudhury as a midfield option for Rodgers.
Therefore, the manager needs to make sure that Leicester are able to win the race for Palhinha’s signature, whilst also axing Choudhury from the squad. The 25-year-old’s statistics show that he is more adept at winning the ball back for his team as a defensive midfielder in comparison to Choudhury and that could ease the burden on Wilfred Ndidi next season.
Against the better sides, Ndidi and Palhinha could provide a brick wall in front of the Foxes defence, whilst giving the attacking players a platform on which to build.