Fulham have this morning confirmed the £17m signing of Portuguese international midfielder Joao Palhinha from Sporting Club de Portugal.

The protracted deal to bring the 26 year-old holding midfielder to Craven Cottage was delayed by a dispute between rival agents about commissions owed to them by the Lions, but Palhinha has signed a five-year contract with the Premier League newcomers and becomes Marco Silva’s first summer signing.

Palhinha has spent a decade with his boyhood club Sporting but his first major experience of senior football came in a number of loans away from the Lisbon club. He helped Moreirense stay in the top flight in 2016, before spending six months with Belenenses and returning to become a key figure in Sporting side that finished third in the table.

He spent two consecutive campaigns on loan at Braga, helping them finish third in 2020 and memorably scoring the winner as they won at Benfica for the first time in 65 years. He was a fixture in the side that finished fourth the following season and won the Taca de Liga. He quickly established himself as an important part of the Sporting side that won the title for the first time in twenty years in 2021 as well as lifting the Taca de Liga.

The 6ft 3in midfielder was voted into the Primeira Liga’s team of the season and was rewarded with a senior debut for Portugal in a 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over Azerbaijan. He played Champions’ League football for the first time last term and has gone to win fourteen caps for his country – scoring two goals. Widely regarded as one of the most promising players in Portuguese football, Palhinha has won more tackles – 158 – then any other Primeira Liga player over the past two seasons.

He told FFCTV after putting pen to paper on his Fulham contract: “I’m very glad to be here. It’s a big opportunity for me, for my career, to play in what is – in my opinion – the best league in the world. I’ve signed with a great Club. The Club wanted me, and I chose the Club, so I promise the fans that I will do my best, and I hope we can win so many things in this season.”

Fulham’s fee payable to Sporting could rise to in excess of £20m depending on Palhinha’s appearances and how well the Whites do in this and subsequent seasons.