Liverpool, West Ham £80m transfer plans thrown into chaos by in-demand manager’s ‘serious’ claim

Matt Stead
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp shakes hands with David Moyes
Jurgen Klopp shakes hands with David Moyes

Fulham star Joao Palhinha has suffered a potentially ‘serious’ pre-season injury which could throw the transfer plans of Liverpool and West Ham into chaos.

Palhinha was substituted late in the first half of Fulham’s 3-2 friendly victory over Premier League rivals Brentford in Philadelphia on Sunday.

The midfielder was replaced by Kevin Mbabu after an awkward fall forced him to leave the pitch with his left arm in a makeshift sling using his shirt.

READ MOREEvery Premier League club’s 2023 pre-season schedule and results so far

Marco Silva told the club’s official website: “Unfortunately, it doesn’t look good. It’s serious, but let’s hope it’s not too serious.

“It’s his shoulder, probably dislocated. Tomorrow he’s going to do a scan and it will be more clear for me to update you on the situation. Let’s hope it’s not another long-term injury for us.”

Liverpool have targeted the Portugal international as part of their midfield summer rebuild, with one journalist saying they are the side ‘most keen’ on Palhinha.

The Reds had already signed Alexis Mac Allister and Dominik Szoboszlai to offset the losses of James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in an engine room which needed remodelling.

But intense Saudi Arabian interest in both Fabinho and Jordan Henderson has seen the club return to their shortlist in search of replacements.

West Ham are also targeting Palhinha as a successor to Declan Rice as the Hammers plot a way to spend their £100m windfall.

David Moyes has already seen Fulham knock back a £45m bid for Palhinha, who the Cottagers value at closer to £80m.

A move of that value would represent a club-record transfer for both Liverpool and West Ham, but Palhinha’s injury status could put both sides off.

It is the latest setback to Fulham’s pre-season preparations, which have been heavily disrupted by the looming cloud of Saudi Arabia investment.

Silva himself has been earmarked by the Middle East and offered a two-year package worth £40m.

But the 46-year-old is reported to have rejected that deal to continue his work with Fulham, who are closing in on the signings of Raul Jimenez for £5.5m, Calvin Bassey for £18m and Mohammed Salisu for £15m.

The Cottagers are having no such luck persuading star striker Aleksandar Mitrovic to stay, as the Serb has apparently ‘told relatives he will never play for Fulham again’.

Fulham have rejected two bids from Al-Hilal for the 28-year-old, the most recent of which was thought to be worth £35m, with Mitrovic angry at being priced out of a move.

Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic
Aleksandar Mitrovic is unhappy with Fulham

“It is not the ideal scenario,” Silva said of Mitrovic, who has reluctantly joined the club’s pre-season tour. “Not because he received an offer, it is all the situation about himself.

“As you know, he is not going to play tomorrow, he didn’t play last Wednesday. He is not working properly with his team-mates.

“I have spoken with Mitro already. He knows my opinion. I am here to give the best for my players, to protect them as I can. Sometimes you have individual decisions – that it is for them to take.

“A player that is not training, and is not in the picture with his teammates, is not going to play.

“It’s easy for me to decide. If he trains with his teammates, he’s going to play matches. If he’s not training with his teammates, he’s not going to play.

“Of course, if Mitrovic is my player I would like him to train, to be involved in all the moments with the team. You know that, that I would like to have him participating in all the moments with the team.”