Fulham midfielder Joao Palhinha has outlined to his agent which club he wants to play for next amid claims Manchester United are ready to gazump Bayern Munich in the race to sign the tigerish Portuguese star.

The 28-year-old midfielder has proved one of the Premier League’s best value-for-money signings in recent seasons, with Fulham benefiting greatly from the bargain £20m fee they paid Sporting Lisbon to bring Palhinha to Craven Cottage in summer 2022. Proving a cornerstone of Marco Silva’s side, Palhinha has made 79 appearances over two seasons, scoring eight goals in the process.

However, the 27-times capped Portugal international came within a whisker of leaving south-west London last summer when he flew over to Germany for talks on a move to Bayern Munich. And while a fee for his services and personal terms were agreed, the paperwork on the transfer was not completed in time, leaving the player having to return to Fulham and complete the season there.

Indeed, the failure to push his signing over the line had a sizeable affect on the Bundesliga title race, with former Bayern boss Thomas Tuchel partially blaming the transfer miss on Bayern’s conceding of the title they had held for 11 years to first-time winners Bayer Leverkusen.

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Admittedly, Xabi Alonso’s Invincibles deservedly won the crown and few would argue against that, though Tuchel did feel the lack of a presence in Bayern’s midfield did contribute to the German giants coming up short in that and their Champions League semi-final against eventual winners, Real Madrid.

“I was sad because I know what he would have added to our team,” Tuchel said at the time.

Joao Palhinha picks between Bayern and Man Utd

“He was sad and disappointed. We’ll speak again about what happened. Everyone did what they had to do, but it was too late in the end.”

As a result, Bayern’s interest in signing the midfielder has never faded and the prospect of a move to the Allianz Arena remains a strong possibility this summer.

To that end, Bayern Munich have recently relaunched their bid to bring the Premier League’s top tackler statistically over the last two seasons to the Bundesliga, having an opening €35m (£30m) bid and then a second offer worth €45m (£38m)  flatly turned down.

Given the agreement on the move last summer had been struck at €65m (£55.6m), it is easy to see why the Cottagers have been quick to wave off their latest attempts, and having also responded by informing the German giants they value the star at nearer the £60m mark.

Having accepted an offer on his sale last summer for a similar fee, Fulham have illustrated their prized asset can be lured away and that possibility has not been lost on Manchester United either, amid claims Erik ten Hag has recommended the player’s signing to the board this summer as he looks to strengthen in three main areas across the side.

Adding Palhinha’s presence to their midfield would undoubtedly strengthen United in a position they were found wanting in at times last season, and he would certainly be a shrewd foil alongside Kobbie Mainoo in the engine room.

However, reports in Germany claim Bayern remain optimistic they can win the race for the player’s signature, and have a ‘confidence’ they can strike a deal to bring Palhinha in this summer.

Bayern Munich regrets for midfielder

Furthermore, and key to their hopes, it’s reported the player has already made clear to his agent that Bayern are his priority this summer if he is to depart SW6.

Speaking last year at the breakdown of his move to Bavaria, Palhinha did not hide his disappointment:

Speaking after his failed move to Bayern last September, Palhinha said: “Obviously, it affected me and my family a lot, but it’s water under the bridge, I don’t want to remember too much about it.

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“It’s a great pride, you know what happened. In my life everything that has been happening – it has been for a reason, I like to think that way. The future will tell me whether what really happened was what had to happen or not.

“But only the future will show me that. I want to continue walking the journey as I’ve been doing, no one has given me anything throughout my career, everything I’ve achieved is earned, for my work. I hope that continues to be the case. I’m 28 years old, but I know I can reach higher and it’s with this ambition that I face the future.”

Palhinha’s immediate focus, however, will be on Portugal’s Euro 2024 quest and the midfielder will play an important role for Roberto Martinez’s side, who open their campaign against Czech Republic on Tuesday.

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