Liverpool and Southampton are currently doing battle for the services of Inter Milan midfielder Phillipe Coutinho. The 20-year-old has been at Inter since he moved from Brazilian outfit Vasco de Gama in in 2010 and after initially appearing to be a future star for the Nerazzuri he rapidly fell out of the first team picture at the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium.
However he spent the second part of last season at Espanyol on loan and his performances in La Liga gave many, including himself, hope that a career in Milan was still a real possibility. Yet this season he has featured in just 11 games for Inter and it appears his bit-part role has run thin.
So while Liverpool and Southampton fist-fight it out once again for a player; after the Saints pulled the Merseyside clubs pants down over the transfer of Norwegian international Vegard Forren the deal could also have ramifications for another Premier League team.
It is reported that Inter are selling this talented Brazilian for one very simple reason; to bring another slightly more talented Brazilian into the club.
The name sound familiar?
So it should as Chelsea have been linked with his signature for an extremely long time.
However both clubs have held off on their interest for a while now for very good reasons. Paulinho will not come cheap and he will also not come easily.
First of all he is handsomely paid by Brazil’s richest club so his wages would be a definite issue. He also harbours some pretty ill feeling toward European football after being subjected to racist abuse during his last frolic on the continent.
Then there is the issue of just who exactly owns the rights to the player. While Corinthians like to talk tough on the deal they are fundamentally minority shareholders in his playing rights. The decision on whether he is sold essentially lays in the hands of a random bank and chain of supermarkets (no; I am not kidding).
This has made the situation very messy but also very expensive as all parties want to receive their fair cut of a deal which has driven his price up; which may have been putting Chelsea off up till now.
However if they do want the 24-year-old they may want to move fast because as soon as Coutinho is moved on you can bet Inter will be talking to the various parties involved about bringing him to Milan.
Should Chelsea take a risk on Paulinho before Inter get their man?
image: © batrax