Four Four Two magazine recently published an article branding Paulinho as the worst signing ever made by Tottenham Hotspur. It was based on a fans’ vote and the truth is that the Brazil international is remembered less than fondly in North London.
Paulinho was signed in 2013 on the orders of André Villas-Boas, arriving at White Hart Lane from Corinthians in exchange for 20 million euros. However, the midfielder failed to find his feet in the Premier League and in one match against Burnley attempted a shot that went so far wide of the target that it swiftly became an internet sensation.
Paulinho: "I didn’t run away from England, I just wanted to feel like a football player again"
A few months ago in an interview with Spanish daily El Periódico, the Brazil international explained how badly he had been affected by his experience in England. “In the first year it worked. My style of play fitted into the English game.” But after Brazil’s traumatic exit at their home World Cup in 2014, a 7-1 mauling at the hands of Germany, things quickly went south for Paulinho. After barely featuring for six months at Spurs, he decided he needed a change of scenery. “I didn’t run away from England, I just wanted to feel like a football player again.”
A move to Guanzhou Evergrande revitalized Paulinho, who banged in 28 goals in three seasons from midfield, including 12 in his final campaign, which was enough along with a hat-trick for Brazil in a 4-1 World Cup qualifying game in Montevideo, to excite interest from Camp Nou.
Coutinho struggling for starts at Barça
Paulinho’s arrival was met with an underwhelming response as Barça had hoped instead to sign a superstar in place of the departed Neymar. Ousmane Dembélé would later arrive to fill that role but it is the Brazilian who has already earned his place in the team and in the hearts of Barça fans, scoring eight times in 34 appearances and becoming a key player under Ernesto Valverde, to the extent that Philippe Coutinho, the world’s second-most expensive player, is finding a starting berth harder to come by than his international teammate.
On Tuesday, on his first return to London with a club (he played in a friendly against England a few months ago), Paulinho has the opportunity to remind those who tarred him with the brush of failure that he has come a long way since his ill-fated spell at Tottenham. And those same fans would probably be delighted to see him get off the mark in the Champions League against Chelsea.