Emile Heskey is not surprised to see Leicester City linked with a move for Joao Palhinha, telling HITC that the Sporting Lisbon enforcer could offer the ‘energy and legs’ that Brendan Rodgers wants.
At the risk of putting too much pressure on a man who has emerged as one of the most influential players in Portuguese football, there is something N’Golo Kante-esque about the way Palhinha plays the game.
The 25-year-old has been nothing short of a revelation since returning to the Estadio Jose Alvalade after a successful loan spell at Braga.
No one in the league averages more tackles per game (3.6) than Palhinha; a ball-winning, bone-chewing bulldog who, a la Kante, is as useful without the ball as he is with it (WhoScored).
The ferocious performances of the former Portugal youth star have helped Ruben Amorin’s Sporting side soar to the top of the table too, with a first domestic title since 2002 in their sights.
And, according to A Bola, Palhinha’s displays have caught the eye of Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester.
The 6ft 3ins enforcer would not only represent a younger alternative to Nampalys Mendy, he would also provide further cover for the increasingly injury-prone Wilfred Ndidi.
And Heskey, who started his career with the Foxes, is not surprised to see Palhinha emerge as a target; even if he still sees a future for Hamza Choudhury at the King Power.
“I think Mendy has done well, coming in when Ndidi has been injured. But Mendy is coming to an age (where it’s time for Leicester to think about the future). Brendan likes it quite young in midfield, he likes the energy and the legs,” says the former England international.
“So I can see why (Leicester would target Palhinha). But then you’ve still got Hamza Choudhury to come in.
“Though if you’re playing first-team football, like Wesley Fofana (during his time St Etienne), that’s what the manager wants – he wants first-team experience in there with youthful energy.
“So yeah I can see that being something the manager wants.”
A Bola adds that Sporting Lisbon are reluctant to let Palhinha go for a penny less than his £53 million release clause; a fee that would see him eclipse Youri Tielemans as Leicester’s record signing.