April 27, 2018 / 3:21 PM / 3 months ago

Soccer: Leverkusen sign Brazil talent Paulinho on five-year deal

BERLIN (Reuters) - Bayer Leverkusen on Friday signed Brazil youth international Paulinho on a five-year deal, beating several top European clubs to the talented teenager.

Soccer Football - International Friendly - Russia vs Brazil - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - March 23, 2018 Brazil’s Paulinho celebrates scoring their third goal REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

The 17-year-old, considered among his country’s brightest prospects, has made only a handful of professional appearances so far, having made his debut less than a year ago for Brazilian club Vasco Da Gama.

“Leverkusen have an outstanding reputation in my country and everyone knows the club in Europe as one where many Brazilian players have been happy here,” he said in a club statement.

“I think it important to take the next step abroad after careful thinking and that is why I decided in favour of a club that is serious and still sets big goals.”

A versatile winger, Paulinho also helped Brazil to a third-place finish in the Under-17 World Cup last year and had sparked the interest of a string of top clubs, including in Spain, England and France.

He is currently recovering from a broken arm suffered earlier this month.

Leverkusen are in fourth place in the Bundesliga with three games remaining and are in contention for a Champions League group stage spot, with the top four teams qualifying automatically.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Toby Davis

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