In the past week stories have emerged documenting the unhappiness of Paulinho at Tottenham. The issue seemingly centres around two problems; firstly, his inability to settle in England, problems with the language combined with the culture and secondly, his lack of playing time for the club. With the first of these a common problem in foreign imports to the Premier League you wouldn’t think that in the coming years this would remain as much of an issue as he adapts and settles into the league and country. However, it is the second of these issues which I wish to focus on. Does Paulinho have a legitimate quarrel over his ‘lack of playing time’, does he warrant a starters birth and an overall evaluation of the big money buy.
It is of my belief that when purchasing a central midfielder for around £17mil, and at that point a record fee, you should expect some kind of contribution straight away; and in fairness Paulinho did this. After the first cluster of games many, including myself, thought he indeed looked like possibly our most valuable signing of the summer, playing with energy, endurance, skill and a touch of class whilst regularly finding himself in goal scoring positions (albeit without an end product), though he did notch a crucial last minute winner against Cardiff in September. However, there marks the high point of Paulinho’s nearly first full season at the club. From there performances have deteriorated, injuries have hampered and influence has been lost- something that could be said of much of the club. Only one other Paulinho performance of prominence springs to mind; against Stoke at home where he was instrumental before another Charlie Adam tackle landed him on the treatment table.
As such I often find myself wondering what exactly Paulinho brings to the team. For a supposed defensive midfielder he doesn’t have the grit or strength of Sandro, and is also weak in the tackle; whilst he is actually better moving forward but lacks the creative final ball or decisive finish. As a result I see him drifting around in many games, covering a lot of ground but not really influencing where it matters most- at either end of the pitch. Top class teams simply cannot afford this type of player; everyone must have something to offer one way or another and we certainly can’t afford to be carrying players at the moment and so he probably doesn’t deserve to start. Many at this point would argue what Bentaleb brings to the team; personally I think Nabil warrants a start over Paulinho on performances since coming into the team- just.
Despite, this do not discount Paulinho- as a word of caution cite the first few months Sandro experienced as a Tottenham player. He was sluggish and clumsy to start with too, coming in from Brazil, I particularly remember a goal he was responsible for away at Bolton in his debut season. But look how Sandro has grown since then into one of our more valuable players. If Paulinho can follow the path of fellow countryman Sandro in his second season there is still hope for the Brazilian yet, assuming he settles and comes to terms with the English culture and the ferocity of the Premier League. However, the only way to do this is by playing but also managing his time on the pitch- and this is something Sherwood and all need to recognise, and something Redknapp did well with Sandro.
If this happens Paulinho may be able to recreate and build upon his positive first two months in a Spurs shirt, whilst dispelling the last six. I have no doubt; he really could be an inspired buy, but only time will tell- here’s to hoping.
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