Leverkusen seal deal for Brazilian starlet Paulinho

Paulinho has impressed with Vasco da Gama and is set to star in the Bundesliga next season

Berlin (AFP) – Bayer Leverkusen have secured the signature of Paulinho, the latest Brazilian teenager to be tipped for a big future, the German club announced on Friday.

The 17-year-old winger, whose full name is Paulo Henrique Sampaio Filho, will move from Rio de Janeiro side Vasco da Gama on the day of his 18th birthday in July on a five-year deal.

German media reports say Leverkusen will pay up to 20 million euros for his signature ($24.2 million).

“The signing of Paulinho is a huge success for us,” said the club’s CEO Michael Schade.

Leverkusen currently sit fourth in the Bundesliga with three games remaining, meaning they are on course for a return to the Champions League next season.

Paulinho’s decision to move to the Werkself may seem surprising, but the 2002 Champions League runners-up have a history of bringing through South American talents — Brazilians Lucio and Ze Roberto are notable former players, as is Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal.

“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,” Paulinho said in a statement on Leverkusen’s website.

“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.”