Who is Paulinho?
Paulinho, who currently plays for SC Braga, is a player who has been heavily linked with a move to Wolves in recent weeks, with the usual variety of reports stating anything from an interest being shown by the club to a fully-fledged agreement already being in place for the transfer.
Paulinho, who is yet to play for a club from outside of Northern Portugal, has impressed at Braga since his move from Gil Vincente in 2017. With this season being by far his most successful, bagging 25 goals and 9 assists in all competitions, finishing as Braga’s top scorer for the season and helping guide them to a third-place finish in the Primeira Liga (above Sporting CP) and also the knockout stages of the Europa League after finishing ahead of Wolves in Group K by a point.
What would he bring to the Wolves set-up?
Paulinho has the physical attributes of a traditional target man with strength, height, and great aerial ability, which combined with his positioning, knowing when to be in the right place at the right time, explains why he has so often been on the scoresheet for SC Braga this season. But, contrary to the target man stereotype, Paulinho is also comfortable on the ball, often dropping back and contributing to the build-up of an attack as opposed to waiting up-front for the ball to come to him. He also possesses a strong work ethic in games, similar to Jiménez, covering more ground than most strikers and helping to put pressure on the opposition when off the ball, which matches Nuno’s philosophy.
Many of the reports around his potential transfer to Wolves seemed to indicate that he was being looked at as a replacement for Raúl Jiménez should he leave this summer. With the ability to play both as a lone striker or in a front two, he certainly would be comfortable in playing the usual role that Jiménez undertakes in Nuno’s set-up, however, I think he would be a great addition to the squad if he signed with the intention to be a backup option to Jimenez as opposed to a replacement striker. Although he has the ability to consistently score and create goals, I think if he were to become Wolves’ new main man up top, it would be a downgrade from Jiménez, who is being deservedly linked with top European clubs because of his last two seasons with Wolves.
But this is not to say that he would not help to improve the squad. With the exception of Wolves, every club that finished in the top 8 places in the Premier League has a viable back-up striker option, who can come on when the team is looking out of ideas, to score or create chances and help secure a result for the team. This could be a huge improvement to a Wolves’ team who over the course of this season, have struggled to push wins over the line and more recently, have not to put games to bed. However, the prospect of only being a back-up to Jiménez may deter Paulinho from agreeing on a move to Molineux, as understandably, he may only want to move to a club where he remains a regular starter up top.
How much would Paulinho cost Wolves?
Jornal de Notícias reported that SC Braga and Wolves are yet to come to any sort of agreement with regards to the fee that would make a deal of Paulinho possible. Braga are supposedly refusing to accept anything lower than his release clause of €30m (£27m), which is unlikely to be agreed to by the Wolves board who do not like to spend lavish amounts of money, having only spent over £20m on one occasion, after exercising their option to sign star-striker Raúl Jiménez for £30m last summer.
I imagine if Wolves have a serious interest in Paulinho they will pursue negotiations with Braga, who are under no pressure to sell as the striker has 3 years remaining on his contract. Another factor that may hinder Wolves’ negotiations is that unusually for a top Portuguese player, “Uncle” Jorge Mendes does not represent Paulinho, which is something that has helped smooth negotiations and often helped to pursue some of Wolves’ top players to buy into the club’s project under Nuno, despite more attractive offers from elsewhere.
Let us know your thoughts on whether you think he would be a good addition to the Wolves squad and any other players you would like me to cover in future posts. I personally think he would be a great addition to the side, however, I would prefer to bring a younger player who has the quality to play first-team football but also bags of potential, with the view of him being a long-term replacement for Jiménez.