Chelsea were defeated in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup this Sunday past by an organised Corinthians side from Brazil who completed a fantastic journey from relegation for the first time in their history in 2007 to champions of the world in just five years.
At the centre of it all was an interesting subplot. As Chelsea openly search for a striker and central midfielder it was widely reported before the game, and indeed in the last month, that Corinthians midfield maestro Paulinho was to be the focus of Chelsea’s transfer envy this January.
The 24-year-old box-to-box man looks the part; he is composed in possession and bullish in the tackle. Similar in style to Shakhtar Donetsk star Fernandinho and a Brazilian international there is little wonder why he has also taken the fancy of Arsenal already this year.
So why will the deal not materialise?
In the past the call of Europe appeared to be an irresistible siren to Brazilian footballers but in recent years many of Brazil’s imports have returned home early while others, such as Neymar, Damiao and Ganso have rejected the overtures of footballs apparent premium continent.
In fact Paulinho has already tasted the nectar of European football; albeit in the leagues of Lithuania and Poland. His time spent at FC Vilnius and Lodzki between 2006 and 2008 was impressive on the field but largely unhappy off of it. Subjected to racist abuse by opposing fans he soon returned to his homeland as a disillusioned 21-year-old who’s dream of European footballs ‘holy grail’ status had been somewhat shattered.
Whether he would want to join a club that, rightly or wrongly, has received all the wrong press in terms of racism in recent months would be highly unlikely. For now he seems happy to stay in his homeland.
With Corinthians the richest club in Brazil and the World Cup/Olympics of 2014 coming to the Samba Nation it is an exciting time to be a Brazilian citizen. Despite their other obvious economic issues they are in fact one of the world’s growing powers and Paulinho could play a huge part in the cultural reflection of this rise if he stays at home.
If things could not transpire against Chelsea anymore he also has an awkward contract situation which sees just 10% of his rights owned by Corinthians with the other 90% split equally between former club Audax Sao Paulo’s controlling business Grupo Pao de Acucar and the banking group BMG; and after previous problems with Corinthians to London transfers in this respect (Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano) it may be a headache Chelsea decide to avoid.
Overall as likely as this move looks on basic paper, between the lines it appears to be highly unlikely that Paulinho would consider Chelsea a dream destination.
Not to mention his current side has just beaten them to be crowned World Champions.
All things considered do you think Chelsea could get Paulinho this January?
image: © Jason Bagley