Paulinho signs for Bayer Leverkusen
Bayer Leverkusen have won the race for the services of Paulinho, landing the 17-year-old from Brazilian side Vasco da Gama.
The Brazil Under-20 international, full name Paulo Henrique Sampaio Filho, has caught the eye in South America after making his debut for Vasco at the age of just 16 and was linked with a number of top European sides.
However, Bayer Leverkusen have beaten their rivals in the market for the teenage talent and have signed a five-year deal with Paulinho, who will join the club on July 15.
Paulinho revealed his excitement at joining Leverkusen, who are currently fourth in the Bundesliga with three matches to go, and is looking forward to the prospect of playing in the Champions League.
"I want to play in the Champions League and continue to improve myself," the forward said to his new club's website after his move was confirmed on Friday.
"During our discussions, I was presented to the club, the team and individual players. A great young team. I'm sure I'll feel at home here and be successful.
"Emerson, Lucio, Jorginho, Ze Roberto and Juan were fantastic players whose global career started at Bayer. The club has a great reputation back home and everybody knows them as a club in Europe where a lot of Brazilians have been happy.
"Renato Augusto cried when he left Leverkusen and with Wendell I know how much they support young foreign pros. 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."
Paulinho has scored three goals in 18 senior league appearances with Vasco, who have also played a huge part in the development of established stars like Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho and Napoli's Allan.
Speaking in a news conference ahead of Bayer's home Bundesliga clash with Stuttgart, coach Heiko Herrlich stated his delight at the deal.
"I was involved in the conversations," he said. "It is great that it worked out and a great job from those responsible to convince a player of that calibre to join Bayer.
"I am really happy that he is coming."
Paulinho is currently sidelined with a broken arm but the versatile attacker, capable of playing on either wing or in a central position, is expected to be fit before the start of next season.
"We reckon Paulinho should have recovered by the middle of July and be fully fit when he joins us," director of football Jonas Boldt said.