And so there was light at the end of the tunnel after all for Marco Silva.
The Fulham manager must have looked around at moments during the transfer window and wondered whether he would be the club’s only prized asset left by the time the vultures had finally flown off.
Tying Harrison Reed and, particularly, Joao Palhinha down to long-term contract extensions can do more than merely lift the mood at Fulham. It can make up for a summer window in which the club’s transfer strategy appeared reactive and, at times, inactive.
After Aleksandar Mitrovic was sold to Al-Hilal, Silva said publicly that his side needed a new striker, despite the fact they had just signed Raul Jimenez from Wolves.
He was then adamant that Fulham had to “sign at least five players” in the final week of the window. They failed on both counts.
Previous Fulham managers have expressed frustration when the current owners have shown perceived slowness in transfer dealings. Yet sporting director Tony Khan showed strength of character in handling the Palhinha situation.
Fulham always insisted that they wouldn’t sell the Portuguese international without a replacement. He duly trudged back to Munich Airport and returned to England, despite having been pictured in a Bayern shirt after having a medical.
Palhinha’s new Fulham contract until 2028, with the option for a further year, does not end the Bavarian giants’ interest. They may well return in January.
It does settle Palhinha, though, and the absence of a release clause gives Fulham crucial bargaining leverage. Now the tackling maestro will either stay or eventually leave for surely more than the £56million Bayern bid for him.
Palhinha spoke of “commitment” and “dedication” in a statement about his new contract, and his professionalism is beyond doubt.
But the beauty of the player is that for just £20m last summer, Fulham made arguably the signing of the season besides Erling Haaland to Manchester City.
While convincing Reed to put pen to paper is significant too, a new contract for Palhinha brings new hope for Fulham.