Erik ten Hag wants to sign a dominant midfielder in January.
Manchester United have looked like a side that lacks belief and a clear strategy this season, with the latest defeat versus Bayern Munich being their third in their last four matches.
Erik ten Hag’s latest Premier League loss was at home to Bournemouth last weekend, where they lost 3-0. The Cherries found themselves in plenty of space on the counter multiple times and punished the vulnerable Red Devils.
With that result and Ten Hag having to rely on 18-year-old Kobbie Mainoo in midfield recently in mind, Man United may look to purchase an experienced, dominant midfielder in January.
Man Utd latest transfers – Joao Palhinha
Joao Palhinha looked set to move from Fulham last summer, but his move to Bayern Munich fell through.
However, according to TEAMtalk, Manchester United are the latest club to join the race for the Portuguese midfielder who is keen to stay in the Premier League.
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£60m is the rumoured fee, but Palhinha is contracted to Fulham until 2028, and they could demand more if he is to move this winter.
How Joao Palhinha compares to Casemiro
Palhinha has become Fulham’s most important player since signing for the Cottagers last season, and he has featured 13 times this campaign, helping his side climb to tenth place with 21 points.
The ex-sporting player registered the most tackles per game last season, 4.2, and also picked up the highest number of bookings in the league.
The 28-year-old has an almost identical profile to Casemiro, even down to his ability to commit multiple fouls without consequence, which Zach Lowy described as “Casemiro esque.”
Furthermore, the duo both excel out of possession and struggle slightly on the ball, although it isn’t completely fair to judge Palhinha’s on-the-ball ability while playing for Fulham, a team typically lacking in possession.
The duo are among the best in Europe for their influence out of possession, including tackles, interceptions, blocked shots, and clearances. Their out-of-possession stats from the last 365 days are displayed in the table below, highlighting a heavy amount of defensive work.
|Palhinha vs Casemiro stats – the last 365 days
|Stats (per 90)
|Stats via FBref
Manchester United have struggled in defensive transitions this season, particularly before Casemiro’s injury. Palhinha would fix this problem on his own, with the Portugal international tackling dribblers at an incredible rate and importantly, he can cover ground with ease due to his long legs.
The 28-year-old is also far more athletic than the United number 18 and he can be relied upon to play as a lone defensive midfielder alongside two high eights, which Ten Hag seems to be persistent with fielding.
Overall, Palhinha would provide United with much more control out of possession and almost a safety blanket for them to commit more players forward and take risks.
He isn’t brilliant in possession, which rightfully raises some question marks, but when Lisandro Martinez, Harry Maguire, and Luke Shaw are back from injury, they can take on most of the progressive responsibility.
Palhinha is essentially a younger, more athletic, and dominant version of Casemiro.