Man Utd scouts got more than they bargained for when seeing reported transfer target Joao Palhinha benched, booked, then sent off in a 40-man brawl, according to a report.
The Red Devils have found great success when plundering the Portuguese top flight in the past. Cristiano Ronaldo arrived from Sporting Lisbon as a teenager in 2003, while Bruno Fernandes walked that same path in 2020.
Diogo Dalot arrived from bitter rivals FC Porto in 2018, and is now quickly becoming an indispensable option at right-back.
With Portugal proving a happy hunting ground in the past, Sport Witness report United scouts were in attendance for the blockbuster clash between Sporting and Porto on Friday night.
Citing Portuguese outlet O Jogo, it’s claimed 26-year-old Sporting midfielder Joao Palhinha was the most likely target of their scouting mission.
The Portugal international operates primarily in holding midfield, and has also attracted the attention of Wolves and Tottenham.
Joao Palhinha prompts intriguing scouting report
The Daily Mail revealed Palhinha holds a close relationship with Ronaldo – something that could aid a United pursuit in the summer.
Indeed, revamping their midfield options is expected to be a priority, and Leicester’s Youri Tielemans is another option.
However, United scouts could not have predicted what they saw unfold in the hotly-contested clash.
Firstly, Palhinha was relegated to the bench before coming on in the 55th minute. At that point, Sporting were already down to 10 men after Sebastien Coates had seen red.
The match saw 10 different players carded – including Palhinha – before ending in a 2-2 stalemate, but the drama did not stop there.
After the final whistle, both benches cleared and came together in a 40-man brawl that sprawled from one side of the pitch to the other.
Infamous firebrand Pepe was predictably at the heart of proceedings, and was one of four players shown red cards in the aftermath.
Palhinha too was given his marching orders, giving United’s scout an interesting report to file.
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De Gea plans to seal Henderson’s fate
Meanwhile, the future of Dean Henderson looks certain to lay away from Manchester United after a report revealed the club’s future plans for David de Gea.
Henderson, 24, has made no secret of his desire for regular first-team football. He has been limited to outings in the cup competitions this season. though United are now out of both the FA Cup and League Cup. As such, Henderson may have played his final match for the Red Devils this season.
And given the latest update from the Sun, he may have also played his last match for the club in general.
They newspaper states Man Utd ‘will’ offer De Gea a new contract in the future. Firstly, they plan to trigger the option in his contract for a further 12 months. That will tie the 31-year-old down until the summer of 2024.
That will give United chiefs more breathing room to negotiate a new contract entirely, and the club are reportedly prepared to ‘bend’ their current policy regarding players aged over 30.
United tend to offer those players short-term contracts on lower wages. However, club officials ‘realise the need’ to perform a 180 on that strategy when it comes to De Gea. And given his mesmeric form this season, it’s easy to understand why.
With De Gea seemingly set to stay in Manchester for the long haul, Henderson’s future will again come under the microscope in the summer.
The Manchester Evening News recently predicted Henderson will force his way out in the summer. The stopper is reportedly ‘highly likely’ to angle for a move, and is ‘more than aware of his own worth and value’.
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