Bayern Munich complete Joao Palhinha signing from Fulham

Bayern Munich have completed the signing of midfielder Joao Palhinha from Fulham.

He has joined the German club on a four-year contract that will run until 2028.

“This is one of the happiest days of my life. I’m now playing for one of the top clubs in Europe,” Palhinha said.

“It’s a dream come true for me, and I’m very proud of that. I’m looking forward to the atmosphere and the fans at the Allianz Arena. I want to enjoy success with FC Bayern and win titles — I’ll give it my all.”

The Athletic previously reported Bayern had reached an agreement worth €51million (£43.1m, $54.9m) plus €5m to sign Palhinha, equalling a club record sale for Fulham.

Palhinha nearly joined Bayern last summer after agreeing terms, but the move collapsed due to Fulham being unable to find a replacement. The 29-year-old was so close to the move, that he had completed his medical and posed with his new shirt.

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Palhinha has been a key player for Fulham (Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The Portugal international was also the subject of a £45m ($58.8m) bid from West Ham United last summer, which Fulham rejected.

Palhinha has starred for Marco Silva’s side since joining from Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon in the summer of 2022, helping Fulham to secure successive mid-table positions in the Premier League.

He made 79 appearances in all competitions across two seasons with Fulham, scoring eight goals.

Bayern finished third in the Bundesliga last season as their run of 11 successive league titles was ended by Bayer Leverkusen. They also reached the Champions League semi-finals.

Vincent Kompany was appointed the club’s new head coach in May following the departure of Thomas Tuchel.

Palhinha’s arrival long overdue at Bayern

Analysis from The Athletic’s Seb Stafford-Bloor

Bayern have been chasing Palhinha for over a year for good reason. While their midfield is generally well-stocked, the club have never really replaced Javi Martinez, who left Germany in 2021. Konrad Laimer was signed on a free transfer last summer, but Bayern remain short of defensive rigidity in that part of the pitch and have struggled to find a balanced combination.

Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka both have uncertain futures. Aleksandar Pavlovic is one of the brightest talents in the Bundesliga but is a much more artisanal midfielder, whose strengths are all with possession.

Conversely, Palhinha is one of the most combative one-on-one tacklers in the Premier League. While also technically accomplished and a finer passer, the Portuguese will provide a layer of protection ahead of a defence which has struggled over recent seasons and within which several players — including Dayot Upamecano, Matthijs de Ligt, Kim Min-jae and Eric Dier — have individually struggled.

There is no question that Palhinha is someone Bayern needed and few fans will quibble with the club having made him the fourth-highest transfer in the club’s history.

Fulham face big challenge to replace Palhinha

Analysis from The Athletic’s Peter Rutzler

Signed for a fee in the region of €20m (£17.2m) in 2022, Palhinha has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water. His style of play, characterised by a ferocious appetite for a slide tackle, has not only made him a clear fan favourite, but also one of the Premier League’s most eye-catching defensive midfielders.

For two seasons in a row, Palhinha has won more tackles than any other player, by a sizeable margin (152 in 2023-24, up from 148 in 2022-23).



Fulham’s player of the season: Joao Palhinha, the master destroyer

For Marco Silva, who was instrumental in his recruitment, Palhinha has been a key cog in his midfield. After winning promotion from the Championship, he wanted a more combative holding player after allowing Jean-Michaell Seri, a playmaker, to depart. Since signing, Palhinha has been the heartbeat of the team and the fear has been that Fulham would struggle without him.

Fulham could not find a replacement at short notice last summer and Palhinha signed a new deal not long afterwards. Palhinha’s desire to join Bayern was clear, but his professionalism since his painful near miss last year has been exemplary. The fee received will surpass that received for Mitrovic last summer from Al Hilal (€52.6m, £46m).

The challenge for Fulham now is to find a replacement. They have coped much better when Palhinha has been absent this past season, but a No. 6 now will be under consideration. Fluminense’s Andre is one name the club have targeted. Unlike last summer, they have more time now to adapt to life without Palhinha.

(Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

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