It’s undeniable that Paulinho’s form for Tottenham since joining in August 2013 from Corinthians for, at the time, a club record £17m, has been far from ideal. We were sold a much more dynamic midfielder, who could both defend and attack, and saw the player we all desired doing his very best for Brazil during their successful 2013 Confederations Cup campaign. Since then, however, things have taken a dramatic turn for the worse.
Paulinho has had the odd impressive moment in a Tottenham shirt, and has scored a decent handful of goals in his time so far. However, his play away from that has left a lot to be desired, with him looking defensively unable, slow in attacking transitions and build up play, and occasionally unable to perform the basics properly. Sadly, the Frank Lampard we were told about has revealed himself to be much more, how do you say…Jermaine Jenas.
Criticism hasn’t been held back where Paulinho is concerned, and he’s close to being written off as a failed experiment by the majority of the Tottenham fan base. So, where did it all go wrong for the man we were told would be odds on to be the “signing of the season” on our podcast Rule The Roost by Brazilian football expert Jack Lang when he first joined?
For me, you have to look all the way back to May 2010, when he stepped up in to the top tier of domestic Brazilian football with Corinthians from Série B. Since then, Paulinho has been playing almost non-stop. It has been 58 months since he first played for Corinthians, and since then, he’s only had 7 months where he’s been completely free from competitive football commitments. The only player with a similar schedule over the same time period, off the top of my head, is likely to be Neymar, who is on a completely different level.
Not even counting the work he’ll have done in various pre-season camps, friendlies played both at club and international level - of which there were many, especially for a globetrotting Brazilian national side before the World Cup and a Corinthians outfit that played in the 2012 Club World Cup in Japan - he’s been an incredible amount of football in the past few seasons, without a proper break. That, on the face of it, would go a long way to describing the lethargic nature of Paulinho’s game, and the possible level of fatigue he’s suffering from.
The only way I could have seen Tottenham curing this was to have given Paulinho an extended break away from playing after the World Cup, and allowed him time to himself up until the New Year, where the only stipulations I’d have set him was to stay out of trouble and report back at the same weight he’d left at. In truth, Paulinho looks like a broken man and empty vessel, which when combined with the obvious lack of confidence he’s currently playing with after a disastrous World Cup and poor time personally, isn’t a great place for him to be in the slightest.
Should the powers that be at Tottenham decide to sell up, or should they decide to persevere, the fact of the matter remains that Paulinho is in serious need of a little rest and recuperation.