Portugal midfielder João Palhinha completed his move to Premier League side Fulham on Tuesday, and admitted the Portuguese presence at the London club was a big influence on his decision.
Palhinha is Luso boss Marco Silva’s first major signing of the summer after securing promotion in impressive fashion back to the English top flight. The 26-year-old has signed a five-year contract at Craven Cottage for a fee reportedly in the region of €23m.
“I’m very glad to be here, it’s a big opportunity for me in my career to play in the best league in the world,” Palhinha told the club’s media. “I signed with a great club, they wanted me and I chose this club, so I promise the fans I will do my best and I hope we can win a lot this season.”
Fulham has been home to several Portuguese players across recent years, including Fábio Carvalho who recently left for Liverpool. Signing such a high-calibre player will boost the hopes of Fulham fans betting at betway portugal that the club can consolidate their status in England’s top flight. Silva is joined on the coaching staff at the club by Fulham fan favourite and former Seleção winger Luís Boa Morte, while ex-Benfica forward Ivan Cavaleiro is also on the books.
“Marco is important for me because he wanted me,” Palhinha says. “He trained me when I was in Sporting when I was young so he knows me. So it was one of the important parts of this deal and I’m glad and I hope we do fantastic work this season.
“When [Silva] was training the first team at Sporting, I played with the B team, I think I was 19 years old. He knows me and he saw my work at Sporting this year. I like the system that he plays here too, so there are many things good about my choice.
“Boa Morte? Of course I remember him. Boa Morte was also my coach in the B team of Sporting. So with him and Marco it’s two coaches I know. I have a good relationship with both. So it’s very good to be with him and I know he [Boa Morte] had a beautiful career with this club.
“It’s the first time I’m playing outside my country but Marco tells me the atmosphere inside the club is very very good, so I am very convinced that things will go very well. I spoke with Ivan Cavaleiro, who is also Portuguese, via message when the possibility of coming here happened. It’s good to have Portuguese teammates here, for the language, finding a home, the logistical things. I spoke with all of them and they were all important in my final decision.”
The move sees Palhinha become the latest Portuguese to test himself in English football, and with the World Cup on the horizon the Lisbon-native was asked whether his desire to represent his country at Qatar 2022 would be a source of extra motivation during the early stages of his adaptation in London.
“To play in the Premier League was my dream as a child. It was one of the biggest objectives I had in my life and I’m very glad and happy to be here in this club. It’s a good club and I want to have a very good season along with my teammates, because we know we have the quality to do this.
“I’m not thinking all the time about it but of course I want to play the World Cup with Portugal. I know my value. So it’s important playing in the Premier League, it’s different intensity. I know people in Portugal and the national coach will follow me and my journey at Fulham.”
By Sean Gillen