João Palhinha has told the Portuguese Football Federation’s television channel, Canal 11, that the influence of Marco Silva was massive in convincing him to move to Fulham this summer.

The holding midfielder swapped Sporting Clube de Portugal for SW6 in a deal worth an initial £17.2m earlier summer and Palhinha enjoyed a dominant debut against Liverpool last weekend, with his combative display in the middle of the park a key reason why the Whites were able to claim a point against Jurgen Klopp’s men after decisively winning the midfield battle.

Palhinha said his longstanding relationship with Silva made the prospect of a move to England much more appealing:

“There are several reasons why I went to Fulham. Marco knew me since I was playing in the [Sporting] B team, he showed me that he wanted to have me, we spoke two or three times on the phone and I felt that desire. It’s special when a coach tries to talk to you. That attracted me and added to this the dream of being in the Premier League.

I took this decision now because I won what I won at Sporting, living a beautiful story coming from the youth teams, and I felt that I finished that cycle. And even Sporting is in a continuous phase. The club also thought that and I had to make that choice. This question of having the coach [Silva], of going to the World Cup [in Qatar with Portugal this winter] … I’m 27 years old and I think I’ll reach another level.”

Palhinha reiterated that deciding to leave his boyhood club was not a straightforward call.

“As far as I know, I only had this offer [from Fulham]. That’s what came to me. It wasn’t an easy decision, I didn’t immediately say yes. It wasn’t easy. I had a goal of the Premier League, but it’s not easy to change comfort, family and the club where I grew up.”

The 27 year-old knows that Fulham’s immediate ambitions will be different to those of his former club, where fighting for the title is a given, but he reminded his interviewer that he has experience of battling against the drop earlier in his career.

“Fulham fight for smaller goals compared to Liverpool and [Manchester] City, but I haven’t always played for Sporting. I’ve been to Moreirense, Belenenses and here I look the same way, to dream of a higher level.”

There’s also a hilarious bit of the interview where Palhinha reveals that he took his post-match media commitments so seriously – in both Portuguese and English – that he was left behind by the team coach after spending so long giving interviews. Hopefully, he won’t have to walk home from Wolverhampton this afternoon.