Shortly before Paulinho out-jumped Martin Caceres to head home the winner of Wednesday’s Confederations Cup semifinal, Sky Sports revealed that an agreement between the Corinthians midfielder and a European club was “imminent.”
Following Brazil’s 2-2 draw against England earlier this month, the 24-year-old said it was a “great pleasure” to be linked with the White Hart Lane outfit and that he “couldn’t turn them down” if they came in for him.
Paulinho has a €20 million release clause Spurs are likely to trigger following Sunday’s Confederations Cup final against either Italy or Spain, and based on Wednesday’s performance against Uruguay, it’s a fee that can almost be considered a bargain.
Not only did he score the goal that put Brazil through to the tournament’s centrepiece match at the Maracana, but he also delivered the exquisite long ball to Neymar that led to Fred’s opener late in the first half.
Over the course of the 90 minutes, he completed an impressive 91 percent of his passes, engaged in three tackles and won every aerial battle he contested. By comparison, Uruguay midfielder Cristian Rodriguez finished the match with a 70 percent pass-completion rate and committed three fouls to Paulinho’s one.
In this, his first full season of senior international football, Paulinho has already scored six goals for Brazil—three of which have come this month—and has played his way into manager Luiz Felipe Scolari’s plans ahead of next year’s World Cup.
To do it, he out-performed the likes of Ramires, Hernanes and Jadson, continuing a meteoric rise to prominence over the past two years.
In 2011, as a 23-year-old, he was named to the Brazilian league Team of the Season as Corinthians won the title.
Last July, he and midfield partner Ralf helped the Sao Paulo giants to their first ever Copa Libertadores crown—an achievement that was followed by a historic win over Chelsea in the final of the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup.
Paulinho’s trajectory of development is trending as high as it ever has, and given the rate with which he has improved since breaking into the Corinthians' first team in 2010, his acquisition will prove a good piece of business for the club that convinces him to join.
Right now, Spurs are at the head of the queue, but Marca.com reports that Real Madrid are also interested, so the Premier League side will have to move quickly after the Confederations Cup to ensure they get their man.
All statistics courtesy of WhoScored.com.