Tottenham are looking to make a move for Brazilian midfielder Paulinho, whose agent is said to be in London negotiating the potential move. Although the Corinthians midfielder isn’t the like-for-like replacement the club may have been looking for to fill the void left by Luka Modric, Paulinho will regardless be seen as an exceptional piece of business if Spurs get their man.
Paulinho is currently with Brazil at the Confederations Cup, where the host nation opened the competition with a 3-0 over Japan – of which Paulinho added the second goal – therefore any movement of note on this deal will likely only take place once the competition is over.
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A move for Paulinho has significant implications for Andre Villas-Boas and the style of play that won him such success with Porto. While the Portuguese was keen to bring in Joao Moutinho last summer, it’s often overlooked that the arrival of the now Monaco midfielder would have seen Tottenham convert to a flat midfield three, or at least with all three midfielders holding a deeper role away from the front three.
Paulinho, notably, isn’t the conductor of an orchestra Tottenham may look for in this role, but that position could be filled to an extent by Mousa Dembele. Instead, the Brazilian will provide muscle, power and a driving force from deep. He’s very good at both ends of the pitch, able to contest aerial duels and also chip in with goals. In fact, it wouldn’t be too wide of the mark to say Paulinho is a midfielder who has a plenty of goals in him over the course of a season in Europe.
Combined with his box-to-box style and alongside countryman Sandro, Tottenham could see the forging of an especially strong midfield duo. However, if Villas-Boas wants to persist with the current formation which sees an advanced midfielder behind the striker, Paulinho is also capable of playing further up the pitch. Again, he isn’t a player whose creative work can be compared to, say, Oscar, but he does play in a more attacking role for Corinthians than he does for Brazil. It gives Tottenham options and offers a big step up in quality from some of the likely departures this summer.
This also says a lot about the club’s ability in the market even without the draw of Champions League football. Paulinho has been touted for a move to Europe for the last 12 months at least, with Shakhtar, Inter Milan and Chelsea all holding an interest at various points. It’s a crucial statement of intent from the club.
In many of his appearances for the Brazil national team, Paulinho has often stood out as one of the better players on the pitch. As well as that, his successes with Corinthians are notable, having won the Brazilian Serie A title and Copa Libertadores, culminating in the win over Chelsea in the Club World Cup final.
There is, of course, that issue we’ve seen in the past with players coming into the Premier League from South America and failing to adapt. Paulinho, however, doesn’t seem to force any of that questioning. Even at a fee of around £17million, Paulinho should be seen as a bargain. He’s 24, possesses the tools needed to excel and even thrive in English football, and it’s a remarkably odd that many more clubs aren’t chasing his signature.
This is a deal that could be of great importance to Tottenham. It’s a statement to both the club’s rivals and its star players. It will show that with everything in place the club can replace outgoing names with quality of equal stature. And then there’s the on-pitch side of things. The signing of Paulinho means the team are a step further to creating the playing style Villas-Boas wants to carry out. That, in turn, and coupled with better luck on the injury front, could see Spurs make up the ground for a top four finish.
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