Manchester United reportedly scouted Sporting CP star Joao Palhinha as they look to reinforce their midfield department in the summer.

According to the print edition of Portuguese publication Jornal de Noticias, as relayed by Sport Witness, Manchester United had a scout present for Sporting CP’s clash against FC Porto as they monitor midfielder Joao Palhinha.

The 26-year-old has been with Sporting since 2013 when he joined from boyhood club Sacavenense. Palhinha had loan spells away at Moreirense, Belenenses and SC Braga (two seasons), following which he became a regular at Sporting since the summer of 2020. The midfielder played a role in the Lions’ league title triumph last season and has built upon his performances this term.

Palhinha has made 86 appearances for Ruben Amorim’s side, scoring seven goals. The defensive midfielder also has 12 caps for the Portuguese national team and has netted twice for A Selecao.

Palhinha’s rise to prominence in the last couple of years has not gone unnoticed. Tottenham Hotspur were credited with an interest in the Portuguese midfielder in the previous summer window, while there have been rumours of interest from Real Madrid as well. Now, Manchester United have emerged as a prospective suitor for the 26-year-old midfielder.

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Manchester United’s midfield department will need a revamp in the summer. Paul Pogba is likely to depart as his contract is set to expire, while Nemanja Matic could also be moved on, having become a marginal figure in the squad. With Scott McTominay and Fred not entirely convincing in the No. 6 position, the Red Devils need a proper holding midfielder.

Declan Rice has been their primary target, but signing him might be difficult amid interest from their rivals like Chelsea and Manchester City. So, it would bode well for the 20-time English champions to keep an eye out for alternatives, and Palhinha has presented himself as an option for the Mancunian giants.

The 26-year-old has played as a defensive midfielder all his career and has enjoyed impressive progress in Portuguese football while also making a mark on the international level. He has a release clause worth €60 million embedded in his contract, but could be sold for as little as €30 million, a figure that should not pose any problems for Manchester United.

Having scouted Palhinha, it remains to be seen if United decide to act on their interest in the midfielder in the summer or whether they press ahead with their interest in primary target Declan Rice.

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