There was something surprising about Paulinho’s Monday night press conference in which he confirmed he was leaving Corinthians to join Spurs, in that the North London club were unrivalled in their bid to sign the Brazilian midfielder.
There has been mentions of Real Madrid in media circles whilst the player himself admitted Inter Milan were interested, but “the only offer came from Tottenham” according to the player who will now move to North London for £17 million.
This comes after starting four of Brazil’s five games in the Confederations Cup, a tournament in which he hit 2 goals and won the FIFA Bronze Ball award for finishing as the third best player behind Andres Iniesta and compatriot Neymar. The 24 year old’s stock has risen as he showcased to the world his ability that is now so vital to Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Selecao.
Yet Spurs, a side who cannot offer Paulinho the commodity of Champions League football next season, have managed to get the deal done early with seemingly no competition and minimal fuss. Only the Confederations Cup prevented the deal being completed even earlier and Paulinho is now set to sign a 4 year deal, representing a huge coup for Andre Villas Boas and his new Technical Director, Franco Baldini.
Paulinho’s progression to a Brazil regular worth £17 million has been unorthodox, starting with Pao De Acucar who loaned him out to Europe twice, firstly with FC Vilnius in Lithuania and then to Poland with LKS Lodz. Going back to Brazil, he made a breakthrough with Pao, earning himself a move to Brangatino, a club based in São Paulo. His form there alerted Corinthians who initially took him on loan, before making his move permanent ahead of winning the Brazilian title.
He then won the Copa Libertadores and the Club World Cup with Corinthians as well as a place in the Brazilian Serie A team of the year for both 2011 and 2012, such has been his individual form that has seen him score 20 goals in 86 appearances for the “People’s Club”, mostly from perfectly-timed runs into box. His goal-scoring has also been evident for Brazil as he hit five goals in his last twelve games, including the last equaliser in the recent friendly against England.
His intelligence in timing his breaks into the box has seen comparisons to Frank Lampard but his goal-return comes as a bonus to his authentic box-to-box playing style that is built to drive teams forward.
Paulinho is physically imposing, able to sit deep and break up opposition play before launching his own team onto the front foot with a robust charging run or an incisive ball. He is a fine blend of positional diligence, high work-rate and Brazilian flair, the heartbeat of Corinthians’ recent success and Villas Boas will hope he can now do the same at Spurs.
It is arguable that the pivotal moment in Tottenham’s season last year was when fellow Brazilian Sandro fell injured at QPR in January and missed the culmination of Spurs’ season which ultimately fell short of Champions League football by a single point to rivals Arsenal.
Paulinho’s arrival will ease the burden on Sandro and Dembele, the axis that was so evidently missed when it was broken up last term, forcing Villas Boas to turn to Scott Parker and Tom Huddlestone. Paulinho will add depth, power and considerable quality to a squad that fell extremely thin at times last season, a necessity when the Europa League again provides a distraction to domestic duty.
A striker will be next on the list for Andre Villas Boas as he strives to renovate his squad for a return to the Champions League and it is Barcelona’s David Villa that tops the shopping list, another indication of the calibre of player Spurs now seem to be intent on targeting.
Paulinho has been Brazil’s most consistent player over the past year behind the majestic Neymar and Spurs have pulled the deal off, news made even more startling when it was done with little competition.
Written by Adam Gray
Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamGray1250
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