On deadline day of the summer transfer window, Portuguese midfielder João Palhinha was fully expecting to be paraded in front of the German media as Bayern Munich’s latest signing.
Indeed, by many accounts the former Sporting man had even taken photos in the Bayern shirt as the evening cut-off point loomed. However, Fulham’s reported failure to secure a replacement saw the deal collapse, with Palhinha left stunned by the outcome as he waited at the Bayern training facilities.
Unsurprisingly, the Seleção man has recovered from the setback to deliver some oustanding performances for Fulham upon his return to Premier League action. Palhinha already has two goals this season and continues to draw attention for his exceptionally high number of ball recoveries per game for the Cottagers.
Speaking about the scuppered move to the Bundesliga, the 28-year-old told the media on Monday: “I don’t know what will happen in the future. Obviously, it affected me and my family a lot, but it's water under the bridge, I don't want to remember too much about it.
“It’s a great pride, you know what happened. In my life everything that has been happening - it has been for a reason, I like to think that way. The future will tell me whether what really happened was what had to happen or not.
“But only the future will show me that. I want to continue walking the journey as I’ve been doing, no one has given me anything throughout my career, everything I’ve achieved is earned, for my work. I hope that continues to be the case. I’m 28 years old, but I know I can reach higher and it’s with this ambition that I face the future.”
“Inácio won’t be affected by red card”
Palhinha was inevitably asked about Sunday evening’s Lisbon derby and while the former Lions midfielder was reluctant to be drawn on the match, there were words of reassurance for defender Gonçalo Inácio following his costly red card for Sporting in their 2-1 defeat to Benfica.
“I had the opportunity to watch the second half, unfortunately I didn’t see the first because we had a game. I watched the second half, it was a heated game, I don’t like to talk too much about yesterday’s game, we are in the national team, I prefer to talk more about that. As Portuguese we have to be proud of the competitiveness we have increasingly in our League. The game was heated, with quality too.
“Inácio doesn’t have to be sad, for everything he’s done at Sporting. I think he just has to be happy with his journey. This is football we’re talking about. Yesterday he had the misfortune of being sent off, but that’s certainly not what will divert the focus from him. It happens, he’s a great player.
“Obviously João Neves and António Silva are in a better mood today, perhaps, but that’s part of the deal. With the group we have, these rivalries are out of the question. When we arrived here, there are healthy rivalries. Everyone in the squad respects each other, despite being rivals on the other side. It ends up being our image, the respect we have for each other.”
Martinez’s familiar system
Finally, Palhinha spoke about playing under Portugal boss Roberto Martinez, who has enjoyed a fine start to life in the job with a 100% record and a remarkable 32 goals scored across eight matches in 2023.
“It’s a system that I already know well,” Palhinha said. “With coach Rúben [Amorim], already at Braga and then at Sporting, I adapted quite well, I like playing in it, the team also adapted well.
“I can say that I think it is giving results, in fact, the results are visible. It has added good things for us, so it’s been positive. We have to continue like this.”