Liverpool midfield target suffers “unfortunate” injury in pre-season friendly

Liverpool’s list of midfield targets may have narrowed further, due to an injury to Fulham midfielder Joao Palhinha during a pre-season friendly.

As Jordan Henderson and Fabinho head for the exit with moves to the Saudi Pro League near, Liverpool are weighing up moves for their replacements.

It is imperative that at least one new midfielder be brought in, with the ideal scenario being to sign two, but it remains to be seen who will emerge as priority targets.

Fulham‘s Portuguese defensive midfielder Palhinha has been touted as an option by reliable sources, with the 28-year-old first linked back in March.

But as his side’s pre-season preparations continued with a 3-2 win over Brentford in the US, Palhinha was struck down with a shoulder injury.

His shirt was fashioned into a makeshift sling by medical staff before he was replaced by Kevin Mbabu shortly before half-time.

Later, he was seen leaving the Lincoln Financial Field in discomfort, with Fulham manager Marco Silva predicting a dislocated shoulder.

“Unfortunately it doesn’t look good,” he told BBC Sport.

“He’s probably dislocated his shoulder. Tomorrow he is going to do a scan and it will be more clear.

“Let’s hope it’s not another long-term injury for us.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, May 3, 2023: Liverpool's Luis Diaz (L) is challenged by Fulham's João Palhinha during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Fulham FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While the extent of Palhinha’s injury is as yet unclear, it is certainly not good news for the midfielder – and its timing could be decisive.

Liverpool are unlikely to bring in an injured player this summer, as the emphasis will be on signing immediate starters in the wake of Henderson and Fabinho‘s moves.

A similar situation may have unfolded with Borussia Monchengladbach’s Manu Kone earlier in the summer, with a knee injury on duty with the France under-21s seeing speculation fade.

Whether Palhinha was considered as a viable target, of course, is up for debate – Fulham had already rejected a £45 million bid from West Ham and are claimed to value him at £80 million.