If you read between the lines last week, tonight’s news comes as no surprise. With Corinthians and Tottenham having agreed to a fee in excess of $25 million (£17 million), the player was left to decide, a choice Paulinho put off until after the Confederations Cup. But with Brazil having claimed first on Sunday, the 24-year-old midfielder having claimed the Bronze Ball, the time had come. Was he off to England?
“The other interest we got was from Inter Milan but the only offer came from Tottenham,” he said. “The proposal came, we sat down, analysed it and decided. It was a big decision to go to a big club. There comes a certain point when you need new challenges.”
And with that, Paulinho’s on his way to London, skipping Wednesday’s Recopa Sudamericana because of “contractual requirements.” At what was reported to be an emotional press conference held by Corinthians, the Spur-to-be didn’t say goodbye. “See you soon,” was his farewell, telling the club to which he promised to return “Corinthians will be in my heart for the rest of my life.”
For now, though, his life is in North London, where he could be a perfect fit for a Spurs team that suddenly has a number of midfield options. If the speculated switch to a 4-3-3 (from a 4-2-3-1) formation happens, André Villa-Boas would have an enviable midfield of Sandro behind Paulinho and Moussa Dembélé, with the likes of Lewis Holtby, Jake Livermore, and potentially Tom Carroll as depth options. Should Spurs solve their problems at striker, where they’re currently relying on Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermaine Defoe, the team could make a real run at the Premier League’s big three: Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea.
No, they won’t be true contenders; just dark horses. And we’ve yet to see what Arsenal’s going to do with this hypothetical war chest their new sponsorships have reportedly given them. But a Spurs team with a healthy Sandro and Paulinho’s box-to-box presence complementing Dembélé would be better situated to snare the top four spot that eluded them last season.