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Marco Silva shouldn’t have said Joao Palhinha will be at Fulham next season

Written by Drew Heatley on 20th May 2024

Joao Palhinha shoots on goal during the Premier League match between Fulham and Liverpool at Craven Cottage. Rights obtained from IMAGO.

 “I’m not surprised by all the interest that has been shown in Louis. He’s a terrific player and fulfilling all his potential. But he will be leaving this club over my dead body.”

The younger among you readers may not remember these comments from Chris Coleman on the eve of the 2004 January transfer window. But I do. I was 16 years old and punching the air at the fact that our manager had drawn a line in the sand and quelled talk of a transfer saga. Our talismanic striker Louis Saha was going nowhere.

But, of course, he left exactly a month later to join Manchester United.

So, when Marco Silva said on Friday that our Portuguese man of war, Joao Palhinha, would be at the club next season, I have to say I scoffed.

Then, when I thought about it a bit more, I felt a bit frustrated. I love Marco (he’s a genius after all), but he’s got about as much say in who stays and who goes in the windows as I do. Have we learned nothing from the Mitrovic saga just months ago? It’s down to Tony Khan, Ali Mac, and – ultimately – the player himself.

Now, I’m not suggesting Joao would force a move. I think he’s shown 10 times over he’ll battle to the death for the shirt he plays in. But we sent him to Munich, FFS. With a day of the summer window left. There’s clearly an appetite to make a profit on our prized asset – and no one begrudges that. That is modern football, and we must all accept it and play our part. We’ve all long believed that this season was Joao’s prolonged goodbye.

But now we have hope. Cruel, misguided hope. And the bitter disappointment that comes when that hope is dashed is far worse than having nearly nine months to come to terms with loss. It also sets up a narrative of Marco versus the board – a story that none of us want to read while laying on our sun loungers this summer.

Marco said after the final whistle against Luton that he’s been led to believe that FFP won’t have an impact on our summer activity. I pray he’s not being led up the garden path, because one would have thought that a Munich-funded cash injection would provide the foundation for the flurry of activity expected over the coming months.

Ultimately, whether Joao stays or whether he goes, I just hope there is a plan in place. We’ve just completed a solid second season in the Premier League – and when it was all said and done we equalled our highest tally for goals scored at 55, only finished six points off our record of 53, and fell just two wins short of the 15 we chalked up last year. That’s consolidation. Now it’s time for growth. 

Hold onto your hats – it’s about to get wild.

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