It’s hard to recall Paulinho’s time at Tottenham Hotspur without remembering that shot against Burnley.
After a clear run and with no defenders to block his effort, the midfielder still managed to put the ball several metres far from the goal, a move which ended up marking his disappointing time in London.
Signed for £17m in 2013, Paulinho’s transfer was surround by hype. The player had been pretty important for Corinthians the year before, when the club won the Copa Libertadores and also the World Cup of Clubs against Chelsea.
But the midfielder was never able to convince at the White Hart Lane, many times showing he lacked the required technique to be a central midfielder in the Premier League.
Sold for £12m to Guangzhou Evergrande two seasons later, with Mauricio Pochettino feeling Tottenham had better options, it seemed like Paulinho’s top level European career was over.
But as we know in Brazil by now, Tite is the man.
The manager had already been responsible for Paulinho’s success at Corinthians, and not worried if the player was playing in a top league or not, called him up to be a starter with the national team right after taking charge.
Paulinho has been incredible lately. During Tite’s eight wins, the player scored one goal against Argentina, a hat-trick against Uruguay in Montevideo and also made two assists in the team’s last win against Paraguay.
The secret for all that? The way he’s been used.
Paulinho isn’t skilful enough to control a midfield. He’s not a great defender either. He can’t even create many chances. So what can he do? A question Pochettino will have no doubt asked himself.
He can do Tite’s game style. Which for his role, is to be running all over the right side of midfield, from box to box, to track opponents and start an attack with one or two touches on the ball.
But his greatest feature is the way he can be a surprising element in attack. These goals – both for Corinthians as for Brazil – have all happened in the same way: he gets to the opponent’s box long before the man who’s supposed to mark him, and by doing this, he’s often free to score.
Could he do it all at Tottenham? Probablynot. The Premier League is too much demanding for every position, meaning a top club can’t have such free role for a midfield player. Not for one who can’t keep the ball with him.
But Tite – and probably only him – has known how to manage Paulinho for years, and is responsible for putting the 28-year-old in the spotlight once again after the failure at Tottenham.
Why are we writing this now? Because according to UOL, both Barcelona and Bayern Munich have contacted Paulinho’s entourage to know the possibilities of a move.
It’s may sound like a joke for many Tottenham fans, but considering the outlet and the journalist who wrote it, it’s quite likely to have some truth behind it.
Even if the move doesn’t happen, the interest is still enough for Spurs to start asking why they couldn’t have this version of Peulinho. Was it the managers’ fault? Probably not.
Unless Paulinho finds the perfect tactical system at these clubs, it will be difficult for him to succeed, and maybe we could see that same problem all over again.
Paulinho and Tite git together perfectly, it just wasn’t happening with Pochettino.