The Paulinho Problem

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

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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  1. Why do you think Paulinho is a defensive midfielder? He is a midfielder, not defensive, not attacking; a box-to-box midfielder. He plays in a role for the national side in which he is paired with a defensive midfielder, either Luiz Gustavo, Ramires or Sandro. He occupies the space behind the more advanced midfielder, for example, either Oscar, Bernard or Lucas Moura.

  2. I’d suggest he’ll improve a) under a manager he respects and b) after the world cup he appears to be saving himself for.

  3. Your post covers six of our summer buys really.Not a huge amount of input from any of them but loads of unlocked potential,who's the man with the key.?

  4. We should be palying when all fit a midfiled of Sandro, Paulhinio, Ericksen, Lamella, Chadli, Soldado. I would like to see a new left winger brought in and a new left back who can cross a ball and pass a ball. Sandro sitting Ericksen playing in the hole and Paulhinio playing between back and front. Bentelab for cover for Sandro, Djemebele cover for Paulhinio, either Chadli lamella or Siggy could fill in for the viking . We need to stick with a regular starting 11, reserach why we get sooo mnay injuries and sort it. sack the defensive coaches, bring in Pochentino and hope he brings Llanna and Rodriguez to the party. We will challange for top 4 next season.

    • Hit the nail on the head here. Although its not just the left back who cant cross. Proper left midfielder is clearly a priority though. Perhaps a centre back needed too. I would ship vertonghen off to somewhere cold and miserable too – his attitude stinks!

    • I'd go along with most of that ..but I'd have Dembele playing between Sandro and Eriksen, not Paulinho. He may come good, but he's been a 'luxury' for most of the season. He looks classy but has been ultimately ineffective. Agree we need a top left winger, because Townsend ain't going to wear it there, plus a top left back to push Rose either on, or out. Our left flank has been pitiful where once, two years ago, it was great, the best. Having a top left side to rely on also takes the pressure off our right flank which we've been too predictable in using. Lennon's not been the same since the imbalance occurred in our flank play, and he, or Townsend, will improve if they know the left hand side is doing their bit in games. One more playmaker too should come in to take the pressure off Eriksen. Soldado and Ade should then benefit from all that, but Soldado's movement off the ball has to improve, and he has to be greedier in seeking it. I'd sell Sig, along with possibly Paulinho, as he too doesn't fit in on left wing, creatively inside or centrally. Chadli deserves to be given more chances to show his worth, while Bentaleb must be cover only (and yes I'm sure he'll get better, but he's not exactly set the PL alight with all his game time). Lamela? Well, it can't get worse for him or us next season ..can it?

  5. Just read your piece and the fact that think that useless 19yr old super find that nobody else wanted is worth more a starting place than Paulinho shows me that you are smoking drugs he may have a multitude of touches during a game none of them effect a game apart from when he turns into an opponent and loses the ball and we are put under pressure because the young idiot does it in our half where he seems to have all his stat building touches. He is hopeless a Brazillian international or some Algerian no mark the choice is simple. That’s why Sherwood has lost the dressing room and should be sacked

    • Tommy i agree with you that on paper the Paulinho- Bentaleb choice is a no brainer, but frankly their performances have been similar but what edges Nabil for me is that he actually seems motivated for the team, a much better attitude and has shown some quality, something to build upon e.g. Benfica away. As my article says however, it is only with games under his belt that the best of Paulinho will be brought out- i have no doubt he's currently a better player but we have to pick players on merit & at the moment Paulinho doesn't merit a spot.

  6. I don't know why we don't play Paulinho with Sandro in the middle of the pitch. For some reason Sherwood keeps picking Bentaleb over him and Bentaleb is not yet up to it. Hopefully Sherwood will be replaced by Van Gaal who will be able to get the best out of the players we already have. Still need a left back though. Rose is crap. Should never have let Benny go toQPR

    • I agree, i think Bentaleb and Paulinho should probably be rotated currently as neither of them have been outstanding and both need to manage time on pitch what with Nabil being so young & Paulinho just warming to the pace.

  7. What did BENNIE do?. Rose and Naughton embarrassing

    And Lennon looked like he had just come back from prayer. What’s with the Beards?

  8. Sandro isnt that good really is he? hes got the touch of a rapist. in fact we have the 2 worst Brazilians ever to play for the national team.

  9. Paulinho is not to blame, the clown who agreed to spend 17 million on a Brazilian who runs like he is in treacle is.

  10. I can't agree with the gist of the article: Paulinho was one of the most important players in a Brazil team who won the Confederation Cup – of course he's good enough to play for Tottenham. A lot of Brazilians have difficulty adapting the the pace of the Premier League – I remember Ramires and Lucas especially getting huge amounts of stick from supporters of their clubs before they established themselves. Unfortunately for Paulinho just when he did seem to be finding his feet Charlie Adam put him out for two months, and whne he got fit again he's found he can't get a look in behind Sherwood favourite Bentelab. Two from Sandro, Paulinho and Dembele (with Bentelab getting a few minutes as sub and only starting against weak opposition, the role a promising young player deserves, not 'first name on the team sheet as present) would give a sold base for the team.

    • Graham i agree- Paulinho is certainly good enough for us, possibly better- but as of yet we have not seen this and so he cannot merit a place. I have no doubt he is a top player but he has to show it. Im not sure we can judge the one game he had against Stoke as 'finding his feet' but it was certainly a good performance but that one aside there has been little else to shout about. On the Bentaleb front I agree again, with all 3 of Sandro, Paulinho & Dembele fit and performing Bentaleb would be a sub at best, with a rotation against the smaller teams. However currently for me Bentaleb has done a little more than Paulinho to merit a place, yet we have used him excessively and with him being young we should certainly look to manage him better.


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