Joao Palhinha has signed a new five-year deal with Fulham, marking a surprising u-turn for the midfielder. The 28-year-old had gone as far as having a medical with Bayern Munich ahead of what he has deemed a ‘dream’ move on deadline day. The perennial Bundesliga champions had a bid of £60 million accepted for Palhinha, but the Cottagers could not replace the player in time.
Most expected that, with Bayern representing such a compelling option, the deal would be revived. Palhinha was keen to move to the German giants and Fulham had already named their price. With time to bring in a replacement, the general consensus was that a January move was likely.
Palhinha’s contract signing has come as a surprise but it is a strong statement of intent from the Premier League club. In an era of player power, a lot of footballers may have sulked or protested after the fall-through of a high-profile deal like this. Some would have been more professional but still taken a ‘grin-and-bear-it’ approach, playing their way through to January and prayed for a move. Palhinha has done neither.
Instead, the 28-year-old had committed his future to Fulham. There is no release clause in his new deal meaning there isn’t a trap-door situation that could see Bayern automatically get their way and dislodge him. Palhinha’s deal even includes an option to extend the deal for a further year, meaning Portugal international could be at Craven Cottage until he’s 34 years of age.
That does feel unlikely. Reportedly, the deal was partly done to give Palhinha an improved salary in exchange for staying at the club for this season. The extended deal has Fulham hoping that, should Bayern come back, they would be able to command a higher fee for his services. The security of the longer deal will also have the Premier League club hoping that perhaps others will join the race for Palhinha’s services. Fulham no longer have to rush any sales process, meaning they can invite interest from all sides.
It is expert handling from the club. What could have potentially been a problematic situation, having to pacify a wantaway player, has turned into a contract extension that seems to benefit anyone. Palhinha is well-compensated, Fulham have committed him for at least this season and Bayern are still interested. In a world where players are going public with their frustrations and agitating for moves with a complete lack of tact and subtlety, this is a well-mannered handling of the matter. A statement of intent from Fulham that they will not be bullied by even the biggest of clubs.
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