Paulinho: Why His Future Would Be Best Served Joining Monaco
The future of Brazil international Paulinho is one of the major topics for discussion in South American football at present, with the completion of Neymar's transfer to Barcelona shifting attention in other directions.
As one of the highest profile players remaining in Brazilian football, Paulinho is understandably the focus of much of that attention.
Given the reported level of interest from some of Europe's biggest and richest clubs, his anticipated move is already well on the way to becoming one of the summer's biggest stories.
With just 12 months to go until the World Cup, and his place far from certain, it is imperative that that he chooses his next move wisely. That's why, of the moves supposedly on the table, Monaco may well be the best for him to take.
If we take a look at Jonathan Johnson's analysis of Monaco's possible starting XI next season, it is easy to see where he could fit in. Given the likelihood that they will opt for a variant of 4-2-3-1 in the top flight, it may be that it is top scorer Ibrahima Toure who would miss out.
Paulinho would then simply slot into the centre of midfield alongside recent signing Joao Moutinho, with captain Valere Germain playing ahead in a No. 10 role.
It would be a good opportunity for Paulinho to learn the slightly different demands of box-to-box play in Europe.
Should Monaco dominate games as expected, he would be expected to push forward regularly and support the attack. Against better sides, his main responsibilities would then be more defensive-minded.
It is a balance he will need to strike for Brazil should he start for his country next summer and Ligue 1 would be a good place to make the necessary adjustments to his game.
There are many reasons for such an assessment. While it could be argued that a move to France will see him drop out of mainstream attention, there will be no shortage of focus on Monaco next season.
Moving to a club in Serie A would be little better, with the likes of Hernanes having struggled for recognition with the national team of late. So, if regular playing time at a top Spanish, English or German club is not available, Monaco would be as good as anywhere.
Given the quality that the principality side will boast next season, he should also have fairly comfortable surroundings in many Ligue 1 matches in which to make his adaptation.
PSG's Lucas Moura has shown that it is possible to adapt quickly to the division, and both players are safe in the knowledge that they are under little pressure.
Given the amount of big money arrivals at both sides, there are other players who will draw more scrutiny in the early stages of next season. The chance to make an immediate positive impact, as Lucas has done, is there to be taken.
Then there are long-term considerations that play in Monaco's favour. This is a club who, considering their spending, expect to be challenging for major honours within the next two seasons, in a league that is drawing more and more attention.
There is no guarantee they will succeed. However, even if they should fail, Ligue 1 has proved a trusted developing ground for Europe's top leagues. He would have no problem moving on should he perform well.
Paulinho has plenty of options, including several very good destinations where he could continue his career. At present, though, Monaco could be the best pick of them of them all—from a sporting, rather than financial, perspective.
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