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World Cup player profiles: Paulinho

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He might have been disappointing for Tottenham Hotspur this season, but Paulinho is a key player for the Selecao.

Clive Rose

Rumors have swirled that Paulinho, despite playing just one season in England and having quite a tough time, could go to Chelsea or Real Madrid for a fee larger than Tottenham Hotspur paid for him. This seems quite ridiculous, and a lot of Spurs fans seem quite ready to let him move on if the club really does get to make a profit on him. He didn't have a good season at all and probably doesn't fit Mauricio Pochettino's system quite as well as Andre Villas-Boas' or Tim Sherwood's.

But Paulinho is, without question, an extremely talented player. He's first choice for Brazil, and a great World Cup could carry over into August, turning him into a new man for his club in Europe. Will that club be Tottenham Hotspur, or someone else?

Brazil
Midfielder
Caps: 26, Goals: 5
Group A

Paulinho

Service for Brazil: The energetic box-to-box midfielder made his debut for Brazil in 2011 after an impressive first season with Corinthians. As is the case with a number of young or fringe international players for Brazil or Argentina, he got his start in the Superclasico de las Americas, a friendly series played each fall between the two countries in which only players based in those two leagues can be used. He played again in the 2012 Superclasico de las Americas and scored his first international goal, cementing himself in the international picture for Brazil's bigger games.

Between injuries to Sandro, Romulo and Lucas Leiva, as well as Ramires' loss of playing time for Chelsea, Paulinho has become a clear first-choice player for the Selecao. He cemented that spot with a brilliant Confederations Cup in 2013, and hasn't been hurt at all by a rough first season in England.

What makes him interesting: Paulinho's rise to stardom was a rather incredible one. He moved from a tiny club in Brazil to Lithuania, then Poland, and suffered serious injuries that set him back considerably. After failing to stick in Europe, he went to Brazilian second division club Bragantino, where Corinthians noticed him. He instantly became a star there, helping them to win the Copa Libertadores and Club World Cup. In a matter of three years, he went from being a nobody to being the best midfielder in South American club football.

What to expect in Brazil: A goal or three. His finishing wasn't great for Spurs, but Paulinho always got himself into the right spots to score. Hopefully his poor shooting doesn't carry over to the World Cup and he looks more like the player who dominated the Confederations Cup. His energy and late runs into the box are going to be key for Brazil, and Luiz Gustavo's discipline is going to allow him to get forward a lot.