Arsenal could sign £69m “monster” who was better than Rice in 22/23

The January transfer window will be dominated by talk of a new striker arriving at Arsenal but with money tight it feels unlikely a concrete move will be made.

The Gunners have lined up the likes of Ivan Toney and Borja Mayoral as potential options but Getafe are unwilling to sell the latter and the former boasts an eye-watering £100m valuation.

A midfielder could also be sourced as Edu Gaspar and Co look to boost their chances of winning the title, but again it may well take a mega-money move in order to get something over the line.

Arsenal’s hunt for a midfielder

Amadou Onana has been the most prominent midfielder on the lips of Arsenal supporters so far this month with reports claiming a marquee £60m move could be made for the Everton star.

However, another name that keeps cropping up is that of Fulham’s tackling machine, Joao Palhinha.


The Portuguese very nearly sealed a move to Bayern Munich over the summer and it was anticipated that the Bundesliga giants would come back for him this month.

However, there has been a twist in the tale. According to Fabrizio Romano, Bayern have now backed away from a move. He told Caught Offside: “Bayern are clear – they have no intention to pay €75-80m (£64m-£69m) for Palhinha, and that is what Fulham want for the Portuguese midfielder after he signed a new deal in the summer. Nothing is happening in January for Palhinha to Bayern.”


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As TEAMtalk suggest, Arsenal have been interested in the player and this news now indicates that if they want to sign the midfielder, they are now in a prime position to do so with competition dwindling.

How Joao Palhinha compares to Declan Rice

The £105m acquisition of Declan Rice in the summer was rather remarkable. Arsenal wanted their man and in doing so beat title rivals Manchester City to their prized acquisition.

Since signing for the Gunners he has been nothing short of sensational, marrying defensive solidity with the ability to score vital goals. Already this season the former West Ham man has scored last gasp strikes against Manchester United and Luton Town, while also finding the net against Chelsea. He is a big player for very big moments.


Yet, in Palhinha, they could acquire a player capable of setting Rice free. For all of the good the England international does further back, he is being restricted somewhat.

Indeed, his ability to carry the ball – ranking in the best 19% of midfielders in Europe for progressive carries – is unmatched by many central players on the continent. Palhinha lacks that, however, meaning Rice could play in an advanced role with less defensive discipline being required.


But why is the Portuguese best suited to playing further back? Well, the “tackle monster“, as he was described by The Telegraph’s Sam Dean, actually outperformed Arsenal’s record-signing defensively last term.

Joao Palhinha vs Declan Rice: 2022/23 PL season

Stat (per 90 mins)



Expected Goals (xG)






Attempted Tackles



Tackles Won









Tackles + Interceptions



Aerial Duels Won



Stats via FBref.

Rice happens to trump Palhinha considerably for progressive carries and passes but when it comes to winning tackles, breaking up the play and winning aerial battles, there aren’t many better than the Fulham star in this capacity.

You only need to cite his performance against the Gunners a few weeks ago to understand just how destructive he is in the middle of the park. During that contest the 28-year-old won five of his ground duels, including two tackles and two interceptions.

Joao Palhinha vs Arsenal: PL gameweek 20

Minutes Played


Pass Success Rate

30/36 (83%)

Key Passes


Dribble Success


Duels Won








Blocked Shots


Stats via Sofascore.

On the surface, signing the Portugal international might not be the utmost priority for Arsenal this year. We all know how much difference a striker would make to this team. However, a pairing of Rice and Palhinha is just salivating and would make Arsenal’s midfield nearly impossible to bypass.

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