Introducing Bayer Leverkusen’s New Brazilian: Paulinho

Bayer 04 Leverkusen have beaten off stiff competition from a whole host of clubs to secure the signing of 17-year-old Brazilian starlet Paulinho from Vasco da Gama. What can fans of the Bundesliga expect from the latest import from South America? Here at the Bundesliga Fanatic, we give you the lowdown on the Werkself’s new acquisition.

Having thus far enjoyed a good season full of attacking football, plenty of goals and still with the chance of Champions League football on the cards, Bayer Leverkusen have already turned their attention to next season with the announcement that Brazilian teenager Paulinho will be joining the club when he turns 18 in July.

Paulo Henrique Sampaio Filho to give him his full burst onto the scene in his homeland after making his debut for Vasco da Gama aged just 16, but he really came to the fore and gained international interest following his impressive displays on the left wing at the South American U-17 Championships.

His team-mate Vinicius Junior was star of the show with seven goals as Brazil won their 12th title in Chile, and was first to be snapped up with Real Madrid paying a reported €45 million for the striker. However, Paulinho was also highly impressive with two goals and alerted the interest of the likes of Paris St Germain, Manchester City and Juventus. He then further impressed at October’s U-17 World Cup in India where he scored three goals (including the winner against Germany in the quarter-finals) as Brazil finished third.

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Indeed, it was Paulinho who was the first player born in the 2000’s to score in the Brazilian first division when he scored twice in a 2-1 away win over Atletico Mineiro last July. Three goals in 18 appearances was his total for the Gigante da Colina last season as they finished 7th.

He is currently out of action having fractured his arm in Vasco’s Copa Libertadores clash with Cruzeiro in April. That however didn’t put off Bayer Leverkusen pushing to sign the teenager for next season for a fee reported by Kicker to be around €20 million. Indeed, with hard-up Vasco in need of the cash, this fee would be around €10 million below his reported release clause.

So Heiko Herrlich may have a real bargain on his hands, but only time will tell whether the teenager can cope with the move to Europe. In the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, Paulinho has impressed from the left-wing cutting inside to his stronger right-foot. He possesses good long-range shooting ability, passes well although his crossing isn’t what it could be for a wide man. Another slight weakness is his over-reliance on his right-foot, but that should improve with age and experience.  He is not averse to covering back to fulfil his defensive duties and will offer the Werkself another youthful option in an already talented squad.

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He follows a well-trodden path to from Brazil to Leverkusen with alumni such as Lucio, Zé Roberto, and Emerson amongst others coming before him, while current full-back Wendell will be there to welcome him.

“I want to play in the Champions League and continue to improve myself,” he told the club’s website when his switch was announced on Friday.

“During our discussions, I was presented to the club, the team and individual players. A great young team. I’m sure I’ll feel at home here and be successful. Emerson, Lucio, Jorginho, Zé Roberto and Juan were fantastic players whose global career started at Bayer. The club has a great reputation back home and everybody knows them as a club in Europe where a lot of Brazilians have been happy.

“Renato Augusto cried when he left Leverkusen and with Wendell I know how much they support young foreign pros. I think it’s important to fully consider a move abroad, that’s why I’ve chosen a club that works seriously and yet still pursues great ambitions. I want to get to know the whole of Europe with Bayer.”

A potent attacking line of Leon Bailey, Julian Brandt, Kai Havertz, Kevin Volland. Lucas Alario and Karim Bellarabi will now be boosted by the arrival next season of Paulinho, Dubbed the next Brazilian wonderkid, Leverkusen fans must already be excited about the prospect of the 17-year old emulating previous Vasco da Gama exports such as Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona) and Allan (Napoli).

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Mathew Burt

A year spent living in Bremen got Mathew hooked on the Bundesliga with regular visits to the Weser Stadion getting in the way of his studies. Back in the UK now, he still keenly follows the Grün-Weißen and German football in general. Follow him on Twitter @matburt74.

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