Don’t be surprised if the Seattle Sounders’ next signing comes from Brazil. The latest reports suggest the Sounders scouted Botafogo midfielder João Paulo and the Brazilian club is expecting to get a transfer bid. The Sounders also apparently scouted Bahia defensive midfielder Gregore and a third unnamed player during a trip there.
“It may be that the proposal comes or not. João Paulo has lived in the USA. He would like to end his career in the US. If not now, it would be later,” Ricardo Rotenberg, VP Commercial and Marketing and one of the members of the football committee told Lance.com.
It appears that Botafogo is in some serious need of cash after narrowly missing relegation this year and Paulo may be their most sellable asset.
Aside from playing in South America where the bulk of the Sounders’ scouting resources seem to be focusing and in a league where a winter transfer makes sense — Botafogo’s season just wrapped up and the 2020 season doesn’t start until May — Paulo does seem to fit the profile of the kind of player the Sounders seem to be scouting.
Paulo could be broadly described as a more experienced and better version of Emmanuel Cecchini, a defensive-minded midfielder who’s also comfortable in the attack. Unlike Cecchini, though, Paulo has been a starter just about everywhere he’s gone. Aside from a 2018 that was severely cut short by a tibia fracture, Paulo has started at least 34 games in four of his past five seasons.
Last year, Paulo started 40 matches across two competitions and played mostly as an 8, although he has played all over the midfield during his career. He was credited with three goals and three assists, while making 2.5 tackles and 1.1 interceptions per game. He also averaged 1.2 key passes per game and completed about 83 percent of his 47.4 passes per match.
If the Sounders were to sign a player like Paulo, it would likely push Cristian Roldan to the right wing in the short term. It could also suggest the Sounders might see Roldan’s best longterm position as more of a 6.
Gregore, the other player the Sounders supposedly scouted, is more of a pure defensive midfielder. He averged about 3.0 tackles and 1.6 interceptions while adding four assists for Bahia last year. At 25, he’s three years younger than Paulo, but has just two years of top-flight experience.