Premier League • England

Alonso to succeed where Klopp failed as Liverpool learn ‘phenomenal’ star can secure summer move

Liverpool targets Xabi Alonso and Joao Palhinha

Liverpool are eyeing a double swoop for Xabi Alonso and Joao Palhinha

Liverpool have been given a major boost as Fulham chief Tony Khan has admitted he will sell Joao Palhinha this summer if the right bid comes in, which could see the midfielder work under Xabi Alonso at Anfield.

Palhinha was heavily linked with the Premier League’s elite in summer 2022 after a dominant season with Sporting CP. Liverpool and Manchester United were reportedly willing to do battle over his signing, only for the two clubs to prioritise other targets. This allowed Fulham to swoop in and sign Palhinha.

In his first season at Craven Cottage, the 28-year-old established himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League, winning an incredible amount of duels and sometimes bossing the centre of the park on his own.

Jurgen Klopp was understood to be keen to rectify Liverpool’s previous transfer error last summer by taking Palhinha to Anfield. The player was even backed to hand in a transfer request to leave Fulham for Liverpool.

However, that transfer request never arrived, and Liverpool were put off by Fulham’s huge demands as the Cottagers set Palhinha’s price tag at between £60-80million. Instead it was Bayern Munich who came closest to landing the Portugal star, only to see the deal destroyed by Fulham as the West London side could not land a replacement in time.

While Palhinha remained at Fulham, where he has made the most tackles out of any player in Europe’s big five leagues this term, Liverpool brought in Alexis Mac Allister and Wataru Endo to fill the No 6 void left by Fabinho and Jordan Henderson.

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Although, Mac Allister is generally seen as more of an attacking midfielder, while 31-year-old Wataru Endo is a stop-gap solution. Those factors mean it would make a lot of sense if Liverpool reignited their interest in Palhinha later this year.

Fulham chief Khan has now given Liverpool hope over completing a deal. During an appearance on talkSPORT, he admitted that Palhinha will be allowed to leave if a sufficient bid comes in.

Liverpool target a ‘phenomenal player’

“Joao Palhinha is a phenomenal player and I think Joao’s acclimation to the Premier League has shown that he is an amazing player,” Khan said.

“He’s a huge part of the core of Fulham and we love having him here.

“I would want him as part of the team for as long as possible and we were very happy to extend his contract, but if an offer came along that would make sense for everyone I think that’s something you have to consider with every player at the right time.

“We wanted to keep him and we have kept him, he’s staying with us and there’s a lot of demand for Palhinha. He was a great signing for us.

“I love working with Marco Silva and he’s someone I work really closely with over transfers and building the squad. I talk to him on a regular basis about these things, we made a great signing with Joao and there’s now a huge market, eyes have opened.

“He’s a great player for Fulham, we love having him and I want Joao to stay with us as long as possible.

Fulham owner admits clubs will ‘come in’ for Joao Palhinha

“But it’s part of the business any time you sign a player potentially you know you’re hopefully going to grow their value and that might mean people are going to come in.

“It’s an exciting part of the industry, but certainly he as a person is central to our team and we love having him at Fulham.”

Klopp will not be able to work with Palhinha at Liverpool, as the manager will step down from his role at the end of the season to go on a break.

But Palhinha may end up playing for Alonso on Merseyside. Alonso is Liverpool’s No 1 candidate to replace Klopp amid the exceptional work he is doing at Bayer Leverkusen.

Bayern Munich will provide Liverpool with competition for Alonso’s capture, though it is the Premier League side who are leading the charge.

Fulham will continue to hold out for at least £60m before selling Palhinha. However, Liverpool are more likely to be able to match that sum this time around, as they had a very cheap January window to ensure that the new manager has plenty of money to spend this summer.

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