Barcelona splashed £36.5m to bring in Brazilian Paulinho from China
WHEN a team sells one of their star names for a world-record fee, the last thing many would expect them to do is spend the first bit of that money on a former Tottenham flop.
Yet that is exactly what Barcelona have done, signing 29-year-old
om Guangzhou Evergrande for £36.5million.
The Brazilian was hugely disappointing at Spurs.
In fact, there was agreement they did well to get £10m for him when he left White Hart Lane in June 2015.
But why have they made him the first player they’ve signed since Neymar left for Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record deal worth £198m?
Our friends at Football Whispers have the answers to that question.
Obviously Paulinho isn’t a Neymar replacement.
They don’t play in the same position and they’re nowhere near the same level of footballer.
Barcelona have history for changing players’ positions – Javier Mascherano went from a defensive midfielder to a centre-back.
Sergi Roberto was even converted from a central midfielder to a right-back last season.
Yet there is not much chance of Paulinho becoming a left winger.
It was obvious towards the end of last season Barcelona were calling out for more names in the middle of the park.
Andres Iniesta is getting older and last summer’s signings, Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez, failed to impress enough to hold down a regular place.
Positionally, bringing in another midfielder – even if it’s Paulinho – makes sense.
IT’S not fair to judge Paulinho based solely on his time at Tottenham.
Indeed, when he signed for the North London side, he was a Real Madrid transfer target and his arrival was a real coup.
Former Arsenal midfielder Edu told BBC Sport at the time: “Paulinho is a very professional guy, he’s very focused in training and in matches.
“He’s a guy that likes to win, he doesn’t like to lose.
“He always fights very hard to be in a good position in the table.
“He scores so many important goals and as a player, he’s box to box easily, it’s very difficult to find a player with his characteristics and what he has.”
While it may not have worked out for Paulinho in the Premier League, a move to China has revitalised his career, despite many assuming that the move was an early retirement.
The switch to the Far East saw him link up again with manager Luiz Felipe Scolari, who had picked him for Brazil’s 2014 World Cup squad.
Guangzhou Evergrande had won four titles in a row when Paulinho arrived and he helped them to their fifth and sixth, playing a crucial role.
Scolari made him central to his plans, attempting to implement a Brazilian feel into his side.
He’s been so impressive he earned a recall to the Brazil side, where he scored a hat-trick against Uruguay in March.
If Paulinho hadn’t played in England and Barcelona announced they were signing a Brazilian international who had recently scored a hat-trick at international level, most would assume they’d pulled off a masterstroke.
IT’S clear that Paulinho wasn’t the only Barcelona transfer target after Neymar’s departure.
The Blaugrana are also keen on bringing in Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele and Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, both of whom are unsettled at their current clubs.
Coutinho’s close friend Neymar has just left the club, so bringing in another Brazilian could help the Liverpool man settle at the Nou Camp.
They already have Rafinha and Marlon Santos, but bringing in another new face to help him feel at home would make sense.
If having Paulinho at the club gets the best of Coutinho by helping him stay happy off the pitch, he’ll be a bargain.
Credit: The SUN