Wolverhampton Wanderers boss Bruno Lage has been forced to head ‘back to the drawing board’ after suffering the ‘big blow’ of Joao Palhinha snubbing Molineux in favour of Fulham, according to journalist Pete O’Rourke.
Lage, who is preparing for his second season at the helm after taking charge last summer, appears to have missed out on one of his top transfer targets thanks to Wolves’ newly-promoted Premier League rivals.
What’s the latest news involving Palhinha?
According to The Sun, Fulham are hoping to confirm the signing of Sporting defensive midfielder Palhinha imminently.
The report suggests Wolves were confident of luring the 14-cap Portugal international to Molineux after entering advanced talks and agreeing to stump up £20million.
But it is understood that Palhinha will now be heading to Craven Cottage for £17million – less than Lage’s charges were prepared to pay – after a conversation with Fulham chief Marco Silva swayed the 26-year-old.
Palhinha had been identified as a Wolves target more than a month before the 2021/22 campaign reached its conclusion.
The Sporting ace was seen as an ideal replacement for Joao Moutinho, whose £100,000-per-week contract will expire in a matter of days, or the sought-after Ruben Neves.
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What has Pete O’Rourke said about Palhinha?
O’Rourke believes Wolves have suffered a sucker punch after Premier League new-boys Fulham hijacked their move for Palhinha.
As a result, the journalist feels Lage needs to reassess his options and concentrate on discovering an alternative midfield acquisition.
O’Rourke told GIVEMESPORT: “It’s a big blow for Wolves. They worked on this deal for a long time and they were pretty confident of getting it done as well.
“But it seems that Fulham have stolen in and managed to lure him to Craven Cottage, so it means going back to the drawing board for Wolves as they look for a midfielder.”
Why is missing out on Palhinha frustrating for Wolves?
He also earned an average match rating of 7.03 while shining for Sporting last season, emphasising how he could have been a dependable presence in the heart of Wolves’ midfield.
The former Braga man, who has won an abundance of silverware in his homeland, has racked up favourable figures when compared to current Wolves pair Moutinho and Neves.
FBref statistics show Palhinha boasted a better shots on target percentage than his fellow countrymen per 90 minutes last season, while he also averaged more tackles in which his team won possession.