With interest from all across Europe, most notably from Juventus, Paulinho's performances in Brazil have made him a much desired talent. Here's why...
In recent seasons, at international level and in the highest standard of club competition, the 4-2-3-1 formation has thrived for both attack and defence minded teams. Allowing to leave all of a team's attacking options on the field, while employing a defensive double pivot, this formation is usually best countered using an identical system, which of course leads to it being used by the best in the world.
But for this system to function perfectly, letting it transcend from defence to attack on demand, their needs to be a very specific type of player who carries this responsibility. For Germany, it's Schweinsteiger. For Manchester City, it's Yaya Toure and for Brazilian champions Corinthians, it's the wonderful Paulinho. Paulinho is an archetypal example of a player who in the most basic of terms, makes things happen for Corinthians. When he gets on the ball, the attacking midfield three in front of him begin to move and create.
On route to their Libertadores final appearance this week, Paulinho has shown South America in its entirety, his importance for one of the continents best teams. Not only has he been the key to the creation of chances for the São Paulo giants, but on many an important occasion, he has been there to finish them off as well. The most significant time being the Copa Libertadores quarter final, where he delivered the only goal over an incredibly tight two-legged encounter with Vasco, who had been runners-up domestically to Corinthians last year.
Of course, playing as deep as he does for Corinthians, Paulinho's defensive abilities are equally as important for the side. Playing alongside fellow defensive midfielder Ralf, who is more like the Nigel de Jong alongside Yaya Toure, Paulinho has become part of an almost indestructible partnership, making Corinthians as hard to beat as they are. Over the course of the Libertadores campaign, Corinthians have become known as a quite defensively minded team, inviting teams onto them with the hope of knicking one on the break. This means Paulinho has had to sustain high concentration as the likes of Ganso and Neymar have attempted to unlock the Corinthians defence. In the end, any attacking talents that have stood in the path of Corinthians' progression have been marshalled, and overall, outclassed by the increasingly solid double pivot of Ralf and the imperious Paulinho.
Quite simply, Paulinho has been Corinthians' most important player over the last incredibly successful 12 months, and inevitably he is destined for bigger and better things. He provides the ability to start attacks and end those of the opposition from the same deep lying role. As I have said, having a player in this role is fundamental for success on the world stage and Paulinho, still just 23, has already shown this quality in abundance.