Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Barcelona signing €40m Paulinho instead of Verratti would be embarrassing

The Blaugrana are in talks to sign the Brazilian from Guangzhou Evergrande, but it is difficult to see what he will bring to the Catalan club Barcelona fans had been warned. Back at the end of May, president Josep Maria Bartomeu said: "There will be signings that excite; others that perhaps less so." Paulinho falls into the second category.
The Catalans' move for the Brazilian midfielder is baffling. At his best, the 28-year-old is a tough-tackling, high-energy midfielder, but one that still seems unsuited to Barca's playing style. And he has had to rebuild his career in China after an indifferent spell at Tottenham.
Paulinho was one of the players brought in by Spurs to make up for the departure of Gareth Bale, yet he never really stood out in England. Aside from one wonderful winner away to Cardiff, there was little to write home about. And when Guangzhou Evergrande offered £10 million to take the player to China, Tottenham could not believe their luck.
So why would Barcelona want him? In fairness to Paulinho, he has done well in China, establishing himself as one of the standout players in an albeit limited league. Under his former Brazil boss Luiz-Felipe Scolari, he has looked like the Paulinho of old, the one that impressed at Corinthians and also in the 2013 Confederations Cup.
A recent hat-trick against Uruguay was a surprise even for the player himself. But Barca's interest is an even greater shock. Because Paulinho will be 29 next month, he has a release clause of €40m and he is not really suited to the style of play associated with the Catalan club either.
Barca, of course, have a new coach in Ernesto Valverde and the former Athletic Club boss may look to make the team more aggressive. However, it is widely believed that the Blaugrana are in need of a player who can pull the strings in midfield as Xavi once did - and that is why their top transfer target this summer is Marco Verratti.
The Italian wants to join and even though Paris Saint-Germain are reluctant to sell their best midfielder, it is hard to believe that Barca would give up on their prime objective at this early stage of the window to bring in Paulinho instead.
Even Xavi has admitted that Verratti is the right choice as his successor in the Barca midfield, yet the Catalans do not want to pay €100m or more for the Italian and had been hoping to sign the midfielder for €80m at the most. So spending half of that on Paulinho seems strange. In theory, the Brazilian could provide cover for Andres Iniesta and also Sergio Busquets, but at the start of the summer, Barca's plans were clear: a midfielder to control the tempo, a right-sided winger and a right-back.
Paulinho is not any of those and his signing would be reminiscent of the arrivals of Alex Song and Andre Gomes in recent seasons, players who do not look good enough nor are particularly suited to the Catalan club.
That does not reflect well upon Bartomeu's board and does not exactly bode well for the coming campaign as Barca look to wrestle back the power from Madrid at home and also in Europe.