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M. Diaby (12)

Seoane confirms recently returned Paulinho a topic for starting XI in opener

By Peter Vice   @ViceytheSS

Twenty-one-year-old Brazilian winger Paulo Henrique Sampaio Filho--"Paulinho"--has made it back to Germany after helping his side capture Olympic gold over the weekend. 

Leverkusen trainer Gerardo Seoane, beset by injuries in his squad, hinted that he may insert the youngster directly into his starting XI for Saturday's season opener. 
Paulinho.
Paulinho.Photo: Bayer 04 Leverkusen
After a season spent mostly recovering from a nasty injury, Leverkusen's once highly touted "diamond in the midfield", attacking midfielder Paulinho finally has something to celebrate. The 21-year-old returned to Germany on Monday with a gold medal around his neck. Hopes that he may finally possess the fitness to become a regular at his club team are high ahead of the new season.


Leverkusen's current personnel issues could see the Brazilian start in the opening match of the season on Saturday. Missing Karim Bellarabi, Florian Wirtz, and also lead-striker Lucas Alario, new B04 head-coach Gerardo Seoane needs healthy players to complete his selection.

"A welcome last-second transfer," Seoane noted with a wink and a nod when asked about Paulinho at a Tuesday presser, "Paulinho landed Monday and still exhibits a bit of jet lag. For the first two days we'll have to manage his work load to avoid fatigue, but of course he's a possibility for the weekend. We'll have to give some thought to it."

It may seem like a safer bet for Seoane to simply start Charles Arnaguiz, Julian Baumgartlinger, and Kerem Demirbay in midfield rather than risk a "cold start" with Paulinho. Many expect the Brazilian to put together a breakout campaign, but the season remains long one Seoane may not wish to risk further injury with the player.

Die Werkself nevertheless need immediately help on the attacking flanks following Leon Bailey's departure. Seoane may wish to give Paulinho a trial opposite Moussa Diaby or pair him as an advanced support strike together with Nadiem Amiri.


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