Corinthians defeated Al-Ahly in the FIFA Club Word Cup’s first semi-final on Wednesday to book a place in the final against the victors of Chelsea’s fixture with Mexican club Monterrey. While it gave us an opportunity to take a look at the quality of opposition that Chelsea may likely have to face it also gave an opportunity to hopefully purr over the talents of a Chelsea transfer target; Paulinho.
The central-midfielder has been highlighted as a potential target for the London club as well as city rivals Arsenal earlier in the summer and now with a potential meeting between the two clubs in question that transfer chit-chat has intensified.
Another reason for the sudden uptake in Paulinho rumours would be the injury sustained by Oriol Romeu against Sunderland. The Spanish midfielder suffered ligament damage to his knee and has undergone surgery that is likely to keep him out of action for anything up to six months. It is unfortunate for the former Barca man as he was getting plenty of first-team action under the stewardship of Rafa Benitez at The Bridge.
With Oscar having to play out of position last week due to a shortage of deeper lying midfield options Rafa Benitez is now believed to be on the hunt for a new central midfielder to strengthen that area of the park; specifically a defensive midfielder.
While the option of re-calling Michael Essien from his loan spell at Real Madrid has been mooted a move for Paulinho has also gained credence in light of recent events.
So how did he do against Al-Ahly?
You can see why he was picked up previously in his career by European talent scouts. The midfielder has already played in Lithuania and Poland and on the evidence shown you can certainly see why he would stand out. Technically he seems very adept. Controlled on the ball with a quick turn of pace he also demonstrated a fairly adequate range of passing throughout the first-half. In fact in the first period he was the stand-out performer; acting as the middle man as Corinthians effortlessly swept the ball from left to right and back again as they dominated the first period. If you could compare him to another player Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder and international compatriot Fernandinho comes to mind as perhaps a more complete version.
However on the down side he did seem to go missing in the second half. Al-Ahly deserved more from the game based on the second half display and in fact it was their central midfield man Hossam Ashour who started to come to life. Also he does not seem to play in the defensive midfield role being attributed to him. In this team he is the further advanced midfield player with Ralf; himself a Brazilian international who looked superb in front of the back-four doing most of the dirty work.
It does not mean he doesn’t have the attributes to play there but are there better options for Chelsea in relation to their bank balance and appeal?
What do you think; could Chelsea do better than Paulinho?
image: © Free-ers