Cartilage Free Captain is reviewing each of Spurs' first team players and evaluating their season. The series continues today with Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paulinho.
Minutes played: 1,387
What went right?
He worked himself back into the squad. That sounds trite, but the one time Seleçao man was the definition of dead weight after the initial Europa League fixures; but through injury, AFCON, and general attrition, he found himself regulary deployed as a swing man (pivot partner, late game energy sub, forward destroyer) by season's end, and consistently in the match day squads. Compared to Etienne Capoue's disappearance, and reading between the lines, this reflects well on the Brazilian's professionalism.
He also provided some of our best service from corners despite his limited playing time.
Does any of this make us feel better about a 17 million pound price tag? Probably not, but given where we were in November, it could be worse.
What went wrong?
Paulinho demonstrated little evidence that he will ever be a long term option; and for the aforementioned transfer fee, that was a reasonable expectation. His passing and defensive workrate are nothing more than average, and the thing he supposedly does well, make late runs into the box, has proven to be less of a problem for defenders in England.
Giving credit where credit is due, the last point was actually raised by Tim Vickery on BBC World Phone-In, when he noted that true box to box midfielders are rare in Brazil so Paulinho, and his late runs, stood out in that competition. England and Europe at large are more accustomed to box to box types, perhaps explaining one factor in his rockier than expected transition. He cited the precedent set by Elias, who was a monster for Corinthians, underperformed in Europe, went back to Brazil, and excelled.
In the end, for every positive occurrence listed in the previous section, there is an instance where Paulinho looked like a fish out of water, and that should not be overlooked.
Paulinho should be sold. That Tottenham supporters can look at the end of his campaign where he was not completely useless as a step forward says quite a bit about his two years at the club. Problem with that hypothetical sale, however, is that Spurs probably can't expect much more than 60-70% return on investment. Transfer business is situations like this can be rather tricky, and I would not be surprised to see a long term loan at the end of the window. This is, of course, speculation.
There is always the off chance that he is a productive member of our squad next year, but that would register about a nine on the shock meter in my book. I wish him the best, but it is time to move on.
Grade: 1.5 Chirpys