According to reports in Portugal, Newcastle scouted Sporting CP’s João Palhinha a few weeks ago when the Lisbon-based club took on Porto in an eventful 2-2 draw. The match had a total of 5 expulsions, one of which was Palhinha who received two yellows.
sports witness cited a claim from the Jornal de Noticias newspaper that Newcastle had scouts there specifically to watch the Portugal international. Palhinha was linked with Manchester United, Tottenham and Atletico Madrid during the January transfer window.
Sporting value the defensive midfielder at around €35m (£29.4m) despite an announced release clause of €60m. One question for Newcastle is whether a midfielder is on the cards this summer after bringing in Bruno Guimaraes from Lyon.
Newcastle have a productive crop of midfielders at the moment with Jonjo Shelvey, Joelinton and Joe Willock all putting in the best performances. Shelvey is also reportedly up for an extension.
There’s also local boy Sean Longstaff and the injured Isaac Hayden. Longstaff hasn’t featured much under Howe, with his contract ending in the summer. Hayden did not make the team for the second half of the season due to knee surgery.
Palhinha could be seen as an upgrade for Hayden as he is first and foremost a ball-winning midfielder and a fantastic tackler. At 6’3″, he is also very good in the air.
The 26-year-old joined Sporting Academy aged 17 from Sacavenense, a third division club in Portugal. He spent some of his early years on loan with Moreirense, Belenenses and Braga.
During his two-year loan spell with Braga, Palhinha got his first regular taste of top-flight football making 76 appearances. He returned to Sporting in the summer of 2020 and has developed into a world-class defensive midfielder.
Much hinges on Newcastle’s plans for this summer, particularly with regards to Hayden, who is tied until 2026. Palhinha is a superb defensive midfielder and would add a different option for Howe.