Paulinho became a household name after his move to Tottenham Hotspur from Brazilian outfit Corinthians, securing his move to the Premier League giants Paulinho by virtue of a brilliant 2013 Confederations Cup for Brazil, helping his nation win the competition, scoring the winning goal in the semi-final against Uruguay.
Paulinho had signed for Tottenham for £17 million and joined with the reputation as a goalscoring midfielder who was also something of an all-rounder. However, his time at White Hart Lane was pretty much a disaster and the Brazilian was consequently shipped off to Chinese outfit Guangzhou Evergrande after just two seasons.
Paulinho has since rebuilt his reputation somewhat and has attracted the interest of Barcelona, earning a recall to the Brazil squad in the process. It would certainly be seen as a strange transfer, but is the Brazilian midfielder actually good enough for Barcelona?
One failed spell at Tottenham
It proves difficult to accurately judge his time at Tottenham. His first season at the club was a transition period for the North Londoners and he was one of seven new signings at White Hart Lane, a hard situation for any player to walk into, especially one coming from a vastly different standard of football and culture in Brazil.
The club inevitably struggled under the guidance of Andre Villas-Boas and the Portuguese was replaced mid-season with Tim Sherwood. Sherwood took a liking to Paulinho and he showed on a few occasions that season what he was capable of.
“I do think that if he gave me the opportunity in my role then I would have convinced him. When I saw that it was not there, I decided to leave.”- Paulinho on Mauricio Pochettino.
However, when Mauricio Pochettino took over in the summer of 2014, Paulinho fell out of favour, with the Argentine preferring to use the as of then untested, youthful and energetic midfield duo of Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb, with Christian Eriksen in the hole behind the striker. There was no place for Paulinho and it was hard for him to find any form when playing only a bit-part role.
The Chinese revival
However, since he moved to China for just under £10 million, Paulinho has shown what he is all about. He immediately linked up with former national manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, who selected him for Brazil’s 2014 World Cup squad.
Paulinho once again become a regular starter at club level and showed more than a few glimpses of his quality, most notably an extraordinary 40-yard free kick that flew into the net. As a result, Paulinho forced his way back into Brazil’s squad and is a crucial player for his country once more, even scoring a hat-trick against Uruguay earlier this year.
Reports of Barcelona wishing to acquire his services have therefore followed. Paulinho is a good, technical midfielder who has a wonderful appreciation of timing and space, seeing him arrive into an oppositions box from deep midfield to score. It was the main reason Spurs signed him and he hasn’t lost that quality. Perhaps then, Paulinho shouldn’t be judged on his time at Tottenham Hotspur.
Barcelona’s midfield is ageing and in need of a revamp. Andres Iniesta is approaching the end of his career and Ivan Rakitic’s influence is waning. Squad midfielders like Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez have so far failed to show they are good enough for the Catalonians and it’s raised the possibility of acquiring a new midfielder.
Although Paulinho is no spring chicken, he is currently in the peak of his career. When confident and playing regularly, he has shown what he is made of and could prove to be a very astute piece of business for Ernesto Valverde at Barcelona.
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