Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur Shouldn't Cut Chelsea Target Paulinho Loose Just Yet

HULL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01:  Paulinho of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates scoring a goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Hull City and Tottenham Hotspur at KC Stadium on February 1, 2014 in Hull, England.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Gareth Copley/Getty Images
Jerrad PetersWorld Football Staff WriterApril 30, 2014

Paulinho could be set to leave Tottenham Hotspur after the World Cup, according to reporter Bruno Andrade of Brazilian outlet Lance!Net, as relayed by talkSPORT.

(Andrade, incidentally, broke the news that Paulinho was joining Spurs last summer, so his story carries some weight.)

The 25-year-old, who arrived from Corinthians for £17 million, featured regularly under former manager Andre Villas-Boas but was dropped in the early weeks of Tim Sherwood’s tenure.

Now Chelsea are thought to be leading a race to pry him out of White Hart Lane, while Serie A sides AC Milan and AS Roma are thought to be interested as well.

But should Spurs, who thought highly enough of Paulinho to make him their then-record signing in July 2013, be so eager to cut loose a midfielder who claimed the Bronze Ball at last year’s Confederations Cup?

If anything, they should be taking note that in recent weeks, the Brazil international has shown signs he has finally settled in English football.

Paulinho's distribution vs. Stoke
Paulinho's distribution vs. StokeCourtesy Squawka

Against Stoke on Saturday, he played the full 90 minutes against a physical adversary and distributed the ball with proficiency in the opposition half. He also spent an increased amount of time in the attacking third and took a pair of shots that spoke to his growing confidence.

And the week before at home to Fulham, he kept to concentrated areas of the pitch, won five tackles on the defensive side of the ball, passed at a rate of 91 per cent and made a trio of key interceptions to win back possession.

Paulinho's action areas vs. Fulham.
Paulinho's action areas vs. Fulham.Courtesy Squawka

He also opened the scoring in the 35th minute.

Overall, it was likely his best performance in a Spurs shirt, and if it didn’t impress his Tottenham superiors, it surely caught the attention of admirers at Stamford Bridge, the San Siro and the Stadio Olimpico.

But how would Paulinho fit in at each?

NORWICH, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 06:  David Luiz of Chelsea gestures during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Chelsea at Carrow Road on October 6, 2013 in Norwich, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

His agent, it’s worth pointing out, is Giuliano Bertolucci, and as talkSPORT reiterated in its Wednesday report, Bertolucci also represents Chelsea duo Oscar and David Luiz.

In early March, the Telegraph revealed Barcelona were keen to take David Luiz off Chelsea’s hands—a transaction that would open the door for Paulinho’s introduction as part of a new-look central midfield.

Milan, meanwhile, are desperate for a midfielder who can retain possession and make general contributions with efficiency, and Roma are no doubt concerned about the long-term fitness of Kevin Strootman, who is expected to be out until the autumn with a knee injury.

Of course, a managerial change at Tottenham would perhaps change the entire Paulinho narrative.

If, for example, Frank de Boer were to replace Sherwood during the summer, as The Guardian has suggested, Paulinho’s value to the club would skyrocket as the Dutchman would no doubt be looking for just the sort of resourcefulness and all-around competence the Brazilian already provides.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 03:  Seamus Coleman of Everton tackled by Paulinho of Tottenham Hotspur during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park on November 3, 2013 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Ton
Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Yes, Spurs will likely encounter interest in Paulinho over the next few weeks and months, but they shouldn’t view it as a chance to unload the midfielder.

Instead, they’d be well-advised to keep the faith with a player they rated so highly so recently and who is now making £17 million look like a bargain.

 

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