Fulham midfielder gives Liverpool £60m transfer reminder

Palhinha | Liverpool FC via Getty Images
The Fulham midfielder has been linked with a move to Liverpool in the past.

If there's one position that Liverpool fans wanted to see improved in the summer window, it was the signing of a defensive midfielder to replace the outgoing Fabinho.

In his place came Alexis Mac Allister and Wataru Endo who have been performed admirably in that deeper role, but there's no doubt there are more natural successors to the Brazilian out there on the market - a midfielder who can sit at the base of midfield and break up play and give Liverpool a real base to press high, as Fabinho did over the years.

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The Reds may have recovered from an early setback to take a 2-1 lead in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Fulham, but Joao Palhinha proved once again why he is one of the best options on the market for a defensive lynchpin. Last night, the Portuguese international proved his worth by showing a strong defensive performance as he managed an incredible 10 clearances, 10 tackles, two interceptions, one blocked shot as well as winning 11 of his 16 ground duels. There's no doubting that he was a man on a mission for Marco Silva's side.

He even displayed moments of quality on the ball, registering two key passes and completing four of his seven long ball attempts. As it stands, his future at the London club looks to be coming to an end, be it in January or, more likely, in the summer window. Last summer saw him fail to complete a deadline day move to Bayern Munich but reports of a move to Liverpool were quickly dismissed due to the £60m price tag involved as they sought out the £16m signing of Endo.

The Japanese international is currently away on international duty but has proven across December that he was a shrewd signing with his availability and consistency. Plus, the fact that he has been missed by fans shows the extent to which he has impressed and proven fans wrong after his signing came as a surprise in the summer. But Palhinha simply registers figures like no-one else.

Another summer signing, Ryan Gravenberch, also started last night against Palhinha but won just two of his 12 ground duels, showing he was completely dominated in the middle of the park by the former Sporting star. Although, Mac Allister managed to get one over Palhinha, as he battled for the ball in the middle of the park before performing a brilliant slide tackle to emerge with the ball and leave him on the floor.

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Age was originally thought to be a factor, given Liverpool's transfer policy is to bring in players U25 typically, but that was blown out of the water by bringing in the 30-year-old Endo. Palhinha currently leads the tackle charts in the Premier League by 18, with 84, and he is continuing to prove he is a player destined to play for a top club.

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