On deadline day, Joao Palhinha flew to Munich for a medical and to sign for Bayern Munich in a deal worth £55million. It fell through after Fulham failed to sign a replacement in time and Palhinha returned to London.
It spoke volumes for his character that when his name was announced at Craven Cottage for his first Fulham appearance since then, the ovation was warm and appreciative.
‘I cannot lie. It was a tough week for me and my family but I don’t want to think about that anymore,’ said Palhinha, after a typically determined display.
The 28-year-old signed a new contract on Thursday, committing his future to the Cottagers until 2028, but Bayern and others will return sooner rather than later.
Fulham turned down a £45m offer from West Ham for Palhinha in July and he was also of interest to Liverpool in the summer.
Joao Palhinha has signed a contract extension to keep him at Fulham for up to six more years
The player came close to a deadline-day move to Bayern Munich during the transfer window
Fulham looked to pin down both Palhinha and Reed to long-term deals to keep them at the club
Palhinha’s performance against Luton — beaten by a goal from substitute Carlos Vinicius (right) — was a reminder of why he is so highly rated as he displayed the tenacity that must make him a joy to play alongside.
Since his arrival last season, he has made 160 tackles in the Premier League. The next best are Everton’s Idrissa Gueye and Chelsea’s Moises Caicedo with 109 and 107 respectively.
Marco Silva, who signed Palhinha from Sporting Lisbon for £20m last year, understood why the player had wanted to leave.
‘When one of the biggest clubs in the world come in, the player wants to go and improve. It happened with Joao but I never had any doubts about his commitment,’ he said.
As for Luton, it was another defeat but their best performance of the season. Rob Edwards’ team missed three glorious opportunities and should have had a penalty when Harrison Reed fouled Carlton Morris.
‘It was obvious. It’s not good enough (the officiating),’ said defender Mads Andersen. ‘It’s very frustrating, it’s a big thing and they should really have looked at it in the (VAR) room.’