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Finding Palhinha 'replacement mid-season would be nigh on impossible'

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Sammy James, Fulhamish

Saturday's win over Luton Town wasn't pretty, but we got the job done. A loss or even a draw against a side who everyone is predicting to be comfortably 20th would have been a real morale blow to the team, so all that matters is that we grabbed the three points.

Seven points from five games is a very respectable position to be in considering that we have played Manchester City and Arsenal away among those five. We now have the added boost of new contracts that were announced for Joao Palhinha and Harrison Reed, the two halves of Fulham's midfield engine room that's been key to our success over the past year.

For Harrison, this is a justified reward after years of great consistent performances in a Fulham shirt. Harrison has another battle for his position with the arrival of Alex Iwobi, but no doubt he'll rise to that challenge, just like he did when Sasa Lukic arrived in January chasing down his position.

The Joao Palhinha contract was much more unexpected, especially given how close he was to joining Bayern Munich. He may have signed "until 2028", but I think we all know that's just words in a contract.

It will make him one of the highest paid players at the club, which is hugely deserved given his importance in the team. The reason I'm surprised that Joao signed is because it will make it harder for him to sign for a big club should one come calling.

From what we've heard in the press, there isn't a release clause per se in Joao's contract, but no doubt there's an agreement that Fulham will consider offers from big clubs should they come through.

I'm highly doubtful he'll stay past next summer, but I'm pretty confident he won't leave in January - which is a relief as trying to find a Palhinha replacement mid-season would be nigh on impossible.

I heard centre-back Tim Ream call Joao "the second coming of N'Golo Kante" in an interview the other week - and I think he is spot on. We are blessed to have him at the club, and I think we'll be more than comfortable for as long as we do.

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