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Braga boss Carlos Carvalhal is aware of speculation linking Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur with Paulinho, telling The Sun (Goals Pull-out, 25 November, page 8) the Portugal international is a “very good striker”.

If the Aston Villa board had taken the advice of an admittedly minor group of disillusioned supporters when relegation felt inevitable in the spring, Dean Smith might have lost his dream job to a man who was Sheffield Wednesday’s assistant coach from 2015 to 2017.

A Bola reported Villa had identified then-Benfica coach Bruno Lage as a potential replacement for the West Bromwich-born boss.

9 Football Manager 2007 Wonderkids: Where Are They Now?

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But Lage wasn’t the only Primeira Liga man potentially on his way to the Midlands.

The report added Aston Villa would have looked to bring in late-blooming goal-poacher Paulinho as Lage’s big-money, marquee signing.

“Paulinho is a very good striker,” Carvalhal explains a few months on, understandably relieved Aston Villa kept the faith with Smith and decided to invest in Ollie Watkins instead.

“He was linked last season with Aston Villa and Tottenham.

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“Seen from the outside he looks like a good player but, seen up close, he is an excellent player,” Carvalhal added to A Bola. 

“He was the one who surprised me the most. I was expecting a good player – a player with the ability to link up, attack space, with technical ability.

“After working with him on a daily basis, I was amazed.”

The Tottenham situation is a bit more straightforward than the Aston Villa one.

Quite simply, Spurs were unwilling to pay the £27 million fee Braga wanted despite Paulinho’s career-best tally of 25 goals last season (O Jogo).

Carlos Vinicius, the striker signed on loan from Benfica, represented better value as far as the north London giants were concerned.

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