Man United ‘edging closer’ to £25m Portuguese star who could solve their midfield problems

Manchester United are in pole position to sign 26-year-old defensive midfielder Joao Palhinha from Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon, according to recent reports.

Previously dealings with Lisbon have proved fruitful, as it’s the same club that United famously signed footballing legend Cristiano Ronaldo from back in 2003.

Nani, a largely underrated player during his time in the Premier League was also purchased from the Portuguese side.

And according to a report in the Daily Star, United may look utilise Ronaldo’s off the field influence to persuade his countryman to make the same switch he did 19 years ago, leaving the Portuguese capital to Manchester, albeit at a much younger age than United’s number 7.

Palhinha could be considered somewhat a late bloomer, as he only made his international debut last year, in 2021.

However, since then, he’s become a key cog in Portugal’s side, and will no doubt be integral as they prepare to face Turkey in a last bid to qualify for the Qatar World Cup, which is being held this year.

Despite his late arrival on the international scene, the holding midfielder has put in the hard graft for his club, and has made over 70 appearances over the last two seasons.

United have been crying out for a defensive midfielder for some time now. Although Nemanja Matic has recently proved he can operate there, he’s on the wrong side of 30, and fresh legs are needed.