Paulinho marked his first Bundesliga start with two goals and an assist in Bayer Leverkusen’s 4-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.
Football Tribe has the lowdown on the Brazilian teenager set to take the German top flight and 2020 Summer Olympics by storm…
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Country: Brazil (12 U23 caps/ four goals)
Paulo Henrique Sampaio Filho – to call him by his full name – made his senior debut for Vasco da Gama in July 2017 – two days before his 17th birthday. He registered five goals and three assists in 24 first-team appearances for the Brazilian giants, joining Leverkusen in summer 2018 as the first player born in the 2000s to score at the Copa Libertadores, in a 6-0 aggregate victory over Universidad de Concepcion.
Paulinho made his Bundesliga bow in a 3-1 defeat to Wolfsburg on Matchday 2 of the 2018/19 campaign, but had to wait over a year to open his top-flight account on German soil. The 5’8″ attacker came off the bench to avenge that debut loss to the Wolves, netting Leverkusen’s second goal in a 2-0 win. His first start came at home to Frankfurt on 7 March 2020, when he had a hand in three of Bayer’s four goals – scoring two and assisting one – in a resounding 4-0 success.
Paulinho is already making in-roads on the international circuit with Brazil. He scored five goals in 22 outings for the U17s, and was one of the stars of the U23s’ Summer 2020 Olympics qualifying campaign, scoring in wins over Peru, Paraguay and Argentina. With an additional four assists to his name, he was directly involved in more goals than any other player at the tournament.
Plays a bit like: Alexis Sanchez
Paulinho was likened to Kaka in his Vasco da Gama days, but – nationality aside – that feels a bit wide of the mark. A fleet-footed and versatile attacker who can do equal damage on the flanks or in a central attacking role and is just as capable of providing a defence-splitting pass as he is at finding the back of the net, Paulinho has much more in common with peak Alexis Sanchez – the Barcelona and Arsenal version.
Did you know?
Paulinho favours the same No.7 shirt that Cristiano Ronaldo has worn for the majority of his world-beating career with Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus and Portugal. He is also nicknamed ‘PH7’ in a nod to the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s ‘CR7’ alias – not that there is anything neutral about his talent.
What they’re saying
“Paulinho is an interesting player. He’s a good player. You can see that he can also play well in a central midfield role – especially in an attacking sense.” – Leverkusen coach, Peter Bosz
“He’s getting better all the time in training. Hopefully he can show that more and more in matches, and take his chances when they come.” – Leverkusen goalkeeper, Lukas Hradecky
“Paulinho has the potential to become a great Bundesliga player.” – former Leverkusen and Bayern Munich forward, Paulo Sergio