Bayer Leverkusen's reputation in South America – and particularly in Brazil – served them well this year when they persuaded another top talent to move to Germany. Brazilian attacker Paulinho looks like he will add yet more flair and power to Heiko Herrlich's line-up for the 2017/18 campaign.
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Country: Brazil (U20s)
A direct attacking midfielder standing at 5’ 9”, Paulinho made his professional debut for Brazilian giants Vasco da Gama at the age of 16. He scored a double on his first league start in July 2017, and in February 2018 he became the first player born this millennium to score in the Copa Libertadores – the South American equivalent of the UEFA Champions League.
He won the South American under-17 Championship with Brazil in 2017, and also found the net three times at that year’s FIFA under-17 World Cup.
Plays a bit like: Cristiano Ronaldo
Paulinho said he doesn’t have a role model, but on his arrival in Germany he cited the reigning Ballon d’Or winner as someone he could learn from. But there are some similarities in their playing styles too. The Leverkusen tyro loves to glide past full-backs the way a young Ronaldo did at Manchester United, and he also likes to hammer home from the edge of the penalty box the way the Portugal star often did for Real Madrid.
Just ask Germany’s under-17 team from the 2017 World Cup. Playing against them in the quarter-finals, Paulinho scored what’s already become almost a trademark goal – thumping the ball into the top-right corner of the goal in a come-from-behind victory.
Leverkusen’s recent acquisition and Juventus attacker Ronaldo also have something else in common, too: they both like wearing the No.7 jersey.
Did you know?
Paulinho is far from the first Brazilian to play for Leverkusen, and is following in the footsteps of compatriots like Emerson, Lucio, Ze Roberto and Rene Augusto. Left-back Wendell is currently a Werkself player as well, and Paulinho said the club’s good name in his homeland was one of the main reasons they beat fierce competition to earn his signature.
He revealed that 1994 World Cup winner Jorginho – a Brazilian who played for Leverkusen and Bayern Munich between 1989 and 1995 – had advised him that the Bundesliga club would be a great place at which to further his development.
“I had contact with Jorginho some time ago at my old club Vasco da Gama, and he confirmed the good impression that I had,” the youngster from Rio de Janeiro said.
🗣 @PaulinhoPH7: "For me, when making the decisions, #Bayer04 was just the total package. I am self-critical and there are still many areas in which I have to improve and I hope this will happen here.” pic.twitter.com/eUzlIZQKEI— Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@bayer04_en) July 19, 2018
What they’re saying
"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 04." - Paulinho
"The lad has quickly shown us what he can do with his technical ability, dynamism, assertiveness and goal threat. He is very advanced in spite of his young age." - Leverkusen general manager Jonas Boldt