From Tottenham flop to La Liga champion – This former Spurs star has gone a long way since leaving the club
Paulinho – From Tottenham flop to La Liga champion
Gareth Bale’s departure from Tottenham in 2013 was a major blow. While his departure was undesirable, it at least left the club with financial reserves to invest into the squad. One of the many players on which Spurs splurged the Bale money was Brazilian midfielder Paulinho.
Paulinho had spent almost his entire career up until that point in Brazil. The midfielder started out at GO Audax, but never featured for the first-team. Instead, he had loan spells at numerous clubs including European sides FC Vilnius and LKS Lodz.
It was in 2009, on loan at Bragantino, that Paulinho took the first step towards stardom. He scored 6 goals in 28 matches, earning himself a permanent transfer to Coimbra-MG in April 2010. A month later, he joined Corinthians and grew into one of the best young midfielder in Brazil at the club.
25 goals from midfield in 112 appearances, a Copa Libertadores success and the FIFA Club World Cup triumph in 2012 put him on the map. And what swayed Tottenham’s mind to sign him was the manner in which he performed in the 2013 Confederations Cup. The midfielder was an ever-present for Brazil as they lifted the trophy. And on the back of this, he earned a £17m move to Tottenham.
Time at Tottenham
Paulinho made a brilliant start to life at Tottenham. The midfielder put in a Man of the Match display on his Premier League debut and followed it up with his first goal for the club a few days later in the Europa League. It seemed like Spurs had brought in a star into the side.
Paulinho’s good run continued throughout the 2013/14 campaign even though there was a managerial change at the club with Tim Sherwood replacing Andre Villas-Boas in December. He managed 8 goals and 2 assists in 37 matches.
The subsequent season, there was another managerial change as Mauricio Pochettino arrived at the club. While this would turn out to be a boon for Spurs, it became a bane for Paulinho as he struggled to establish himself under the Argentine.
The Brazilian made 30 appearances under Pochettino, only three of which were starts in the Premier League. He managed 2 goals and 5 assists in the process. Having fallen out of favour, Paulinho secured a big-money move to Chinese Super League club Guangzhou Evergrande in July 2015.
Paulinho after leaving Tottenham…
After joining Guangzhou, the midfielder thrived in China. In the second half of the 2015 campaign in China, he featured 19 times, scoring 3 goals and setting up one more, winning the league title and the AFC Champions League.
The midfielder enjoyed a sensational 2016 season, bagging 13 goals and assisting 4 more in 47 matches as Guangzhou Evergrande won the league title, the domestic cup and the super cup. He had been in fine form in 2017 as well, scoring 12 goals in 29 matches, before Barcelona snapped him up in July that year.
There weren’t a lot of expectations upon the Brazilian when he joined Barcelona. But he proved to be vital cog in the Catalan side, helping them to the domestic double. Paulinho bagged 9 goals and 3 assists in 49 appeaances for the La Liga giants. At one point that season, he had scored as many goals as Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale had managed combined together at Real Madrid.
Having returned to Guangzhou at the end of the season, Paulinho has continued in his merry ways, winning another league title in 2019, during which he scored 22 goals in 42 matches and was named the Player of the Season.
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Paulinho has shown since leaving our club that he had the quality to come good if the club had been patient. Perhaps the fact that Pochettino did not use him as a box-to-box midfielder, a role in which he thrives in, was a problem. Nevertheless, he may have failed to make it big in England, but he can lay claim to the fact that he won the La Liga with Barcelona.
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