Barcelona’s moves in the transfer market have not been the most successful of late. That trend could continue with Paulinho swoop
Paulinho to FC Barcelona? Believe it or not, various reports from Brazilian and Spanish media have linked the Guangzou Evergrande ace with a move to the Catalan giants – but does he have what it takes to prove himself in one of the best teams in the European continent?
Barcelona have just come out from one of their most disappointing seasons in recent times, where they failed to come close to winning the Champions League trophy, and were not able to retain La Liga.
Their weakest point might well be the team’s midfield, traditionally a strength. From PSG midfielder Marco Verratti, to Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho – there has been several contenders to boost the middle of the park for the club, but it seems like, against all odds, Paulinho is the one being hunted by newly-appointed coach, Ernesto Valverde.
During the time where he managed Greek giants Olympiacos, the Spaniard showed his admiration for hard-working, tireless midfield engines on a number of occasions. And Paulinho, does fit in this category. It is perhaps the only logical reason as to why he is being linked to the Copa del Rey winners.
However, Barcelona’s midfield problem is not so much a lack of physicality and high work-rate, as much as the deficit in creativity and the ability of their midfielders to carry the ball forward. Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suárez have found themselves dropping deep and winning the ball themselves, because the midfield was unable to provide it to them, in the positions where they like to receive it.
With so much chaos in the middle, and the front three constantly multi-tasking, the burden was just way too much, even for “MSN” to handle. The secret of Barcelona’s success has always been a dominant midfield, whereas in the past few months, they have found themselves with a handicapped one, not able to perform the minimum requirements of the system in order for it to succeed.
Paulinho is not the one who will be able to improve this lack of creativity. He is a very average passer at best. I really cannot see what he can offer in terms of build-up and ball control, that Croatia international Ivan Rakitic cannot – besides higher work rate, better ability to penetrate the penalty box and score goals.
As a matter of fact, Paulinho is a typical box-to-box central midfielder, who thrives in applying pressure in order to regain the ball, as well in the final third when he often operates as false nine. In the Brazilian’s defense, the 28-year-old is very athletic and has several qualities, but it’s simply not what Barcelona are in desperate need of.
What the Catalan club requires is a midfield controller, who can organize the tempo of the game. Someone like Marco Verratti fits in this category very well, for example. However, signing him from the mega-rich Paris Saint Germain might well be easier said than done – as was the case when Barça had previously tried to sign Brazil internationals Thiago Silva and Marquinhos.
Paulinho is considered an untouchable figure in Tite’s tactical scheme, and the Seleção boss is set to rely on him for the upcoming World Cup, in Russia next year. Despite Luiz Felipe Scolari confirming that the player is not going anywhere, unless his release clause of $44M is triggered, Catalan papers insist that Barcelona are working on the transfer.