And so there was light at the end of the tunnel for Marco Silva.
The Fulham manager must have looked around at times in the transfer window and wondered if he would be the club’s only valuable asset by the time the vultures finally flew away.
Tying Harrison Reed and, in particular, Joao Palhinha to long-term contract extensions may do more than just boost morale at Fulham. This may make up for a summer window in which the club’s transfer strategy appeared reactive and, at times, inactive.
After the sale of Aleksandar Mitrovic to Al-Hilal, Silva publicly stated that his team needed a new striker, despite the fact that they had just signed Raul Jimenez from Wolves.
He then insisted Fulham needed to “sign at least five players” in the final week of the window. They failed on both counts.
Former Fulham managers have expressed their frustration when the current owners were slow in transfer dealings. Yet sporting director Tony Khan showed strength of character in handling the Palhinha situation.
Fulham have always insisted they would not sell the Portugal international without a replacement. He duly returned to Munich airport and returned to England, although he was pictured wearing a Bayern shirt after undergoing a medical.
Palhinha’s new contract with Fulham until 2028, with an option for a further year, does not end the Bavarian giants’ interest. They could well return in January.
That settles Palhinha, however, and the lack of a release clause gives Fulham crucial negotiating leverage. Now the tackling maestro will either stay or eventually leave for surely more than Bayern’s £56 million bid for him.
Palhinha spoke of “commitment” and “dedication” in a statement regarding his new contract, and his professionalism is beyond doubt.
But the beauty of the player is that for just £20m last summer, Fulham arguably signed the season alongside Erling Haaland at Manchester City.
While convincing Reed to put pen to paper is also important, a new contract for Palhinha brings fresh hope to Fulham.