Rumours have been gathering pace of late suggesting that Tottenham Hotspur are on the verge of signing Corinthians midfield player Paulinho. If the North London club were to be able to pull off such a transfer coup, then it could prove to be the catalyst for a tilt at the Premier League title next season for Andre Villas-Boas’ side.
Jose Paulo Bezerra Maciel Junior, to give the Brazilian his full name, is a player greatly in demand at present, though, with the likes of both Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk also reportedly interested in signing the 24-year-old this summer, so says the London Evening Standard.
However, it is Tottenham who are now believed to be in the driver's seat to bring the defensive midfield player to White Hart Lane following the conclusion to this month’s Confederations Cup, which gets underway on Saturday. Paulinho is set to feature for Brazil in the competition opener against Japan at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia.
The versatile Brazil international has the exact profile to be a huge success in the capital next season, which explains just why soon-to-be Spurs director of football Franco Baldini has been so keen for the club to meet the player’s £17 million buyout clause in his Corinthians contract that runs until 2015.
And with current holding midfield player Scott Parker due to leave the Lane this summer, Paulinho, a.k.a. “Little Paulo”, is an ideal like-for-like replacement for the veteran England international in that key position.
However, the Corinthians man is far from being just a water carrier, as he also plays in the segundo volante role back in his homeland. This means Paulinho is equally adept as a box-to-box midfield player with an eye for goal, as evidenced in Brazil’s recent friendly with England when he scored the Selecao’s late equaliser.
So Villas-Boas would, in effect, be getting two players for the price of one. Someone who, on the one hand, is capable of putting out fires in front of his back four, but who is also a strong, powerful runner with an innate ability to perfectly time his forages from deep into the opposition box, as a record of 34 goals in 167 appearances for Corinthians signifies.
Meanwhile, Paulinho is also known for his aerial prowess at set pieces, both in attacking and defensive situations, which would be an added important commodity when it comes to operating in the Premier League next season.
Looking ahead to that upcoming 2013-14 campaign, Villas-Boas is known to want to finally employ his favoured 4-3-3 formation at White Hart Lane next season, which he used to such great effect while at Porto. This is another strong reason for splashing the cash this summer on Paulinho, as the Brazilian would be able to fit in seamlessly as one of the club’s three midfield players alongside compatriot Sandro and Belgium international Moussa Dembélé.
Now, all of a sudden, £17 million looks like a bargain for a youngster capped 13 times already by the five-time world champions and who appears to have all the characteristics to be able to thrive in the cut and thrust of the English top flight, including the required pace, mobility, physicality, goalscoring ability, versatility and technique.
And what is more, despite being just 24, Paulinho would bring with him to London plenty of big-match experience from his three years spent with Corinthians, including playing starring roles in both the Sao Paulo giants’ Copa Libertadores and FIFA Club World Cup triumphs of 2012.
However, there is also another side attraction to signing “Little Paulo” this summer that could ultimately have a significant baring on Spurs’ future hopes of success, and that is the message which it sends out to star man Gareth Bale, who is currently the subject of intense speculation linking the Welsh winger with a world-record £85 million move to Spanish giants Real Madrid.
Beating the likes of Inter, Shakhtar, Chelsea, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain to the signing of a coveted big-money Brazil international is exactly the type of bold move in the transfer market that can end up convincing an unsettled superstar to stick around awhile longer.
And if Paulinho’s arrival was to then be followed by other such eye-catching, headline-grabbing purchases, including fellow Brazil internationals Bernard and Leandro Damiao, as well as FC Barcelona striker David Villa, then Villas-Boas would have at his disposal a squad of word-class players capable of not just challenging for a top-four Premier League finish next season but for the actual title itself.
In which case, the signing of Paulinho will be looked at in future years as being the pivotal moment in the transformation of Tottenham from serial underachievers to top-flight champions for the first time since 1961.