Is Paulinho slowly proving the Barca doubters wrong?

Richard Hazeldine Richard Hazeldine

When Paulinho arrived in Barcelona from Guangzhou Evergrande in the summer for €40 million, there was much mockery with people suggesting it was the end of an era and a sign of a club in decline.

The Brazilian’s arrival in Spain in late August was roundly criticised, with fans and pundits alike questioning the size of transfer fee, the player’s age and whether his style would fit.

Many of those who were quick to snipe at the Paulinho deal in the summer had probably not even seen him play in China and were basing their negativity purely on reports of his failure at Tottenham and their unfortunately preconceived ideas that all football in Asia is of low quality.

They probably weren’t even aware that Paulinho had played his way back into the international set up during his time in China, and been a key player for national coach Tite as Brazil stormed to first place in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying group.

As for his time at Spurs, there can be numerous reasons why a player doesn’t succeed in any particular country and quite often many of them have nothing to do with things on the pitch. London may be a great city for Alvaro Morato, but it may not have been for Paulinho.

Fast forward two months and Paulinho certainly seems to be enjoying life in Barcelona so far, as his performances on the pitch have shown. The Catalans are flying high in La Liga, four points clear of Valencia and eight ahead of main rivals Real Madrid, while Paulinho is slowly beginning to win over the fans. Some have even gone as far to apologise to him.

Three goals and several impressive performances have silenced the critics and the 29-year old Brazilian even received an ovation from home supporters when he appeared as a substitute in a recent game against Malaga.

More importantly, Paulinho has struck up an instant on-pitch rapport with Lionel Messi, and is prepared to take a back seat and support the Argentinian in his role as Barcelona’s star performer, saying recently that it is his job to “help [Messi] continue to be the best player in the world.”

When Paulinho meets Leo!

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde was apparently instrumental in bringing Paulinho to the club and first impressions seem to suggest that his decision was correct. Maybe fans should learn to trust the judgement of men who are paid to make these decisions.

Of course, not all big money transfers work out well in the end, but what Paulinho’s story goes to show is that in this world of instant online reaction and punditry, sometimes a bit of old-fashioned patience is the best quality by far.