On Sunday, England was on the verge of stealing its second victory over Brazil in four months at the rebuilt Maracana stadium. However, the blushes of the Canarinha were saved by the 82nd-minute equalising strike of Paulinho.
It seems highly likely that you will be hearing a lot more of that name in the coming months. The 24-year-old Corinthians midfielder looks set to follow his national teammate Neymar over to Europe, where he has been a long-standing target for a number of top clubs.
After an impressive performance in December's FIFA Club World Cup Final against Chelsea, the player known formally as José Paulo Bezerra Maciel Júnior caught the attention of the Blues, as well as Manchester City and Inter Milan.
In February, his agent Kia Joorabchian—the man who controversially brought Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano from Corinthians to West Ham—proclaimed that the central midfielder would move to Europe this summer. "He's got his pick of clubs at the moment," he said in an interview picked up by talkSPORT.
According to sambafoot.com (source in Portuguese), Paulinho has become the subject of a €20 million offer from newly promoted Ligue 1 outfit Monaco.
Meanwhile, La Gazzetta dello Sport believe the Corinthians star in on his way to Inter Milan. "Inter are a club well known all over the world. This is where Ronaldo and players such as Julio Cesar, Lucio and Maicon played. Who would not want to wear the Inter jersey?" he is quoted as saying in the Italian newspaper (translated via Goal.com).
So what kind of player are Internazionale and Monaco bidding for?
Essentially, a very good one. Paulinho is a classic box-to-box midfielder in the mould of Yaya Toure or Steven Gerrard. He possesses Maruoane Fellaini's strength and aerial prowess, and Frank Lampard's ability to find the net from long range.
Paulinho mostly plays in the center of Corinthians' 4-3-3 or 4-4-2 formations. With Internazionale, he could comfortably play in the central/defensive role of Esteban Cambiasso, but since attacking qualities arguably outweigh his defensive ones, he might be more suited to the free central roles currently occupied by Dejan Stankovic or Zdravko Kuzmanovic.
Monaco have been employing a 4-4-2 formation under Claudio Ranieri lately, but given the arrival of Falcao, perhaps they will opt for one up front, with Paulinho potentially floating behind.
While some Brazilians have failed to fully adapt to the European game, Paulinho has the advantage of a few years on the continent under his belt.
After progressing through the youth system of his local Sao Paolo club Pão de Açúcar, he spent a season in Lithuania with FC Vilnius, where he scored 5 goals in 38 appearances. In 2007-08, he was then sent to top flight Polish side ŁKS Łódź.
Since returning to Brazil, and subsequently signing for Corinthians in 2010, Paulinho has started building an enviable trophy cabinet. He helped the Timão to the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A in 2011, the Copa Libertadores and the FIFA Club World Cup in 2012, and the Campeonato Paulista this year. For his efforts, the Sao Paolo native made the Série A Team of the Year in 2011 and 2012.
Paulinho is under contract until 2015, but if the rumors are to be believed, he will be making an impact in Serie A or Ligue 1 in the near future.
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