Tottenham’s Brazilian midfielder, Paulinho, has emerged as a potential target for Jose Mourinho at Chelsea this summer, according to reports in the Telegraph. His £17million move from Corinthians in the summer was considered one of the more exciting transfers in the Premier League, as Spurs made moves to compensate for the expected departure of Gareth Bale.
A promising start to both Paulinho and Tottenham’s season soon became forgotten as Spurs’ season petered out into yet another trudge into the Thursday night doldrums they have been trying to avoid for the past three seasons.
Paulinho has recently fallen victim to Tim Sherwood’s erratic management at Spurs, and has had to make do with substitute appearances in recent weeks. With Chelsea and Mourinho on the scene, you start to wonder how long his Spurs adventure will continue for.
The Brazilian has hardly set the league alight since he arrived in the summer, so some may view the rumours as slightly obscure. He’s only really performed for Tottenham in fits and starts, so for many it may be difficult to understand what Chelsea see in Paulinho.
Well, Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has already named nine players of his 23-man squad to play in the World Cup, and Paulinho is one of them. Scolari has been willing to overlook Paulinho’s indifferent form at Tottenham this season because, quite frankly, he’s a damn good footballer. And with the breadth of selection Scolari has to choose from, to be named as one of his first nine picks, is a measure of how highly he is rated in his home country.
Statistically speaking, Paulinho’s performances for Tottenham this season have actually been acceptable. He boasts an 85 per cent pass completion, and averages 2.2 tackles per game. Both in and out of possession he is an asset. With five goals, primarily from a holding role in midfield, his scoring form hasn’t been a disappointment by any stretch of the imagination.
Paulinho would add more flair and energy into Chelsea’s midfield. With Chelsea’s central midfield soon to suffer from an ageing Frank Lampard, an out of favour – and quite frankly limited – John Obi Mikel, and a potential departure in the shape of their fuzzy-haired, overgrown child, David Luiz, gaping holes soon appear. And Paulinho may just fill one of those holes nicely.
Furthermore, the heavy Brazilian influence at Chelsea – Oscar, Ramires, Willian, David Luiz – may just prove to be alluring for Paulinho. It makes the switch feel like a match made in heaven.
Whether Paulinho provides an ‘answer’ to the problems at Chelsea is questionable however. Central midfield isn’t an area they urgently lack quality. Chelsea’s problem this season hasn’t been input. It’s been output. Woefully misfiring strikers are Jose Mourinho’s primary concern. Paulinho isn’t a player brought in to add goals to the side, so in answer to whether he is the ‘answer’, quite simply, no.
He’s had a year to acclimatise to the demands of the Premier League, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Paulinho recreate some of his international form more regularly. And for Chelsea, his added athleticism in midfield may not go amiss.
So far the Premier League hasn’t seen the Paulinho that turned up at the Confederations Cup for Brazil in the summer of 2013. The player who has meandered – at times uninterestedly – around the field for Spurs, is not the high-energy, flair player Scolari is taking to the World Cup. On home soil, with a Brazilian following, the midfielder will come alive this summer.
With the right players around him, and the right management, we could very well see the player who Tottenham thought they were signing from Corinthians for a club record fee. If those players happen to be Chelsea’s players, and that management is Mourinho’s, don’t be surprised to see Paulinho become a Premier League force.