Chelsea are considering a shock move for Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paulinho just a year after the Brazilian moved to White Hart Lane.
Spurs could use Chelsea’s interest in Paulinho to boost their bid to sign number one striker target Romelu Lukaku.
Paulinho joined Tottenham for £17m from Corinthians, as part of the north London club’s squad overhaul following the £80m sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid.
The capture of the Brazilian international ahead of other interested clubs, such as Real Madrid, was seen as a coup but Paulinho has struggled to show his best form at Spurs.
Having started promisingly under former head coach Andre Villas Boas, Paulinho has not been an automatic pick for Tim Sherwood and was set back by an injury sustained against Stoke in December.
Roma and AC Milan are plotting bids to try to take Paulinho to Italy, but Tottenham are also aware of strong interest from Chelsea, who will consider bids for David Luiz and are weighing up different central midfield targets.
Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola is understood to have identified £30m-rated Luiz as a player he wants to sign this summer to strengthen the German’s defence after their Champions League thrashing at the hands of Real Madrid.
Luiz has played more regularly in midfield for Chelsea under Jose Mourinho, but Nemanja Matic will be eligible for next season’s Champions League which will limit the Brazilian’s inclusion even more.
With Matic and Ramires at his disposal, Mourinho could look to replace Luiz with more of a box-to-box midfielder who would provide a better alternative to Frank Lampard, whose contract expires at the end of the season.
Paulinho was likened to Lampard when he first arrived in England last summer. He has scored seven goals so far this season for Spurs, but the 25-year-old was far more prolific for Corinthians, netting 20 goals in 86 appearances.
Reports in Brazil claim Chelsea’s interest in Paulinho is being encouraged by agent Giuliano Bertolucci, who is said to have played a hand in the moves of Luiz, Ramires and Oscar to Stamford Bridge.
Paulinho last month admitted his frustration at Tottenham by saying: “‘I understand the team rotation because that's how it works here, but I am not feeling well or comfortable. I want to be present, I want to play.”
Relations between Chelsea and Tottenham have been strained since the Blues gazumped Spurs to sign Willian for £32m from Anzhi Makhachkala.
But with Spurs set to make a summer bid for Chelsea striker Lukaku, an uneasy truce could be called to help the transfer interests of both clubs.
Lukaku has spent the season on loan at Everton, scoring 14 goals, and is valued at £25m by Chelsea. That is roughly the same amount of money Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy would demand for Paulinho.
Everton are also interested in signing Lukaku permanently, but failure to qualify for the Champions League will make it difficult for them to match Chelsea’s asking price.
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