Bayer Leverkusen’s prodigious Brazilian Paulinho may only be half a season into his senior professional career, but the 18-year-old is already planning to overhaul Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga.
Attacking midfielder Paulinho – a Brazil U20 international – burst onto the scene for Vasco da Gama last term with a direct hand in four goals from 18 games to help the Rio club qualify for the Copa Libertadores.
Nearly 6,000 miles away, meanwhile, Bayern were on their way to sealing a record sixth consecutive Bundesliga title, 29 points clear of Leverkusen, who finished fifth. Paulinho doesn’t think a seventh Meisterschale in a row is a given for the Bavarians, though.
"I have a different opinion," he told SportBild. "Bayern have a strong structure but Leverkusen also have huge quality. We have a strong team. It’s not written in anywhere that Bayern must be champions."
"Everyone has the same chance of winning the title at the start of the season. Of course I want to be a champion with Bayer."
In Leon Bailey, Julian Brandt and Kai Havertz, Paulinho joins an impressive stable of young attacking midfielders, and the newest member of the Werkself wonderkids thinks the experience can help propel him to the top.
"[the presence of young players like Brandt and Bailey] makes it a lot of fun training and playing together," he said.
"I want to be the best in the world, at least for one day. That’s my dream. I try to train and live in as disciplined a way as Cristiano Ronaldo, but there’s still a long way to go!”