Joao Palhinha signed for Fulham in summer 2022 from Sporting Lisbon and made an instant impact in the English Premier League. - © IMAGO/Colorsport
Joao Palhinha signed for Fulham in summer 2022 from Sporting Lisbon and made an instant impact in the English Premier League. - © IMAGO/Colorsport

João Palhinha: Who is Bayern's new holding midfielder?


Bayern Munich have boosted their squad with the signing of experienced and extremely tough operator João Palhinha, who has earned plaudits for his play in the English Premier League.

Data correct as of 11 July 2024

João Palhinha

Age: 29 (born: 9 July 1995)
Club: Bayern Munich
Position: Midfielder
Country: Portugal (31 caps, two goals)

Key stats

Palhinha emerged as a talent from the famed Sporting Lisbon academy, which has produced the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Leão and Wolfsburg prospect Tiago Tomás. He did not make an instant breakthrough at the talent-rich Portuguese club, playing for their B team until the age of 22 and having three loan spells at Moreirense, Belenenses and Braga. After helping the latter to a surprise third-place finish in 2019/20, Palhinha's persistence finally rewarded him with regular appearances for Sporting the following season. The capital club promptly won the Primiera Liga title and Palhinha was named in the league's team of the year.

The consistency of the 6'3" gritty midfield patroller in the 2020/21 title-winning season earned him his first full international cap at the age of 25 in March 2021. Two appearances at UEFA Euro 2020 followed that summer. A move to Fulham in the English Premier League then came after another impressive season for Sporting. The London club finished an impressive 10th in 2022/23 on their first season back in the top flight with Palhinha anchoring their midfield. Three brief appearances in the 2022 FIFA World Cup followed as the Lisbon native's star continued to rise, and he continued to impress for Portugal at Euro 2024 in his new home of Germany.

All in all, Palhinha made 79 competitive appearances for the Cottagers, showing he can also find the back of the net by picking up seven goals. It is his defensive capabilities, though, that could prove vital to Bayern's resurgence.

Plays a bit like: Javi Martínez

Palhinha's physique, tough tackling ability, positioning and experience make him a powerful force in defensive midfield - much like Bayern's former midfield enforcer Javi Martínez, who Der Rekordmeister have never really replaced in their squad since he departed in 2021. While he is more likely to be seen dropping back and blocking an opposing attack, he is not averse to roaming forward and scoring the occasional goal like Martínez - something Palhinha has been known to do in spectacular long-range style.

Did you know?

Palhinha is a monster tackler, the kind of which has to be seen to be believed. His youth coaches in Portugal were staggered at how he would tirelessly fly into challenge after challenge when most young footballers wanted to develop into flair players or goalscorers. All that practice from a young age has paid off. Palhinha made the most tackles of any player in the English Premier League last season by a huge margin - 152, which was 24 more than closest challenger João Gomes of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

João Palhinha has been a key figure of Portugal UEFA Euro 2024 run. - IMAGO/dts Nachrichtenagentur

What they're saying

"He will be very valuable for FC Bayern. João is strong in tackles and very good in the air. He can give a team structure, plays consistent and very mature football. He also has great character, is a real leader. Bayern fans can look forward to João Palhinha." - Bayern Munich sporting director Christoph Freund

"We knew when we were signing him that he would be a plus for us, for our squad; on the ball, off the ball, set pieces as well." - Fulham coach Marco Silva

“I used to say that João was slow when it came to warm-up drills. But on the pitch, he was transformed into a combative defensive midfielder, an Iron Man who never turned his back on a fight." - Luis Nunes, a Sacavenense U17 coach