After seeing their chase for Marco Verratti come to a crushing halt, Barcelona appear to be moving on and Plans B and C. Apparently, Plan B is a Brazilian playing in the Chinese Super League, Paulinho.
When rumors started circulating a while back about Barcelona’s interest, many tossed it aside figuring it was just a baseless rumor driven by the crazyness of the transfer season. However, it was reported a few days ago that Barcelona actually made a bid for the 29-year old. What’s more is their bid was rejected by the player’s club, Guangzhou Evergrande.
The report goes on to state that Barcelona were willing to pay €20 million. Paulinho moved to China from Tottenham Hotspurs a few years back for €14 million. In an age where Chinese teams are paying big money for players with some sort of star power, Barcelona now want to bring one of those players back, paying more than what Guangzhou did.
In an interview with Mundo Deportivo, Paulinho admitted that even he was surprised that Barcelona were showing an interest in him.
Translated, he said, “The truth is I never could have imagined it. When I came to China in 2015, playing was the only thing on my mind. Now, at age 29, I didn’t see it coming.”
Before delving into why this deal makes no sense for Barcelona, it’s important to note that Paulinho is not at fault for any of the fanbase’s ire.
In that interview, he also said that he felt like he was in a cloud when he heard about their interest. Who wouldn’t be? He has the chance to play for one of the biggest teams in the world and alongside, arguably, the greatest player in history in Lionel Messi. He also stated that he hoped everything gets resolved within the next week.
The reason why this potential transfer makes little sense can be broken down into various aspects: age, price, and positional surplus/necessity.
Paulinho is too “old”
It may sound weird calling someone who is 29 old but, in soccer terms, he is. He said it himself that he did not expect to have a shot of ever going to Barcelona because of his age. Another aspect has to do with the current Barcelona squad. It’s not a young team. The spine on the team are all close to thirty. They need to rejuvenate the squad and Paulinho won’t do that.
Guangzhou Evergrande rejected a €20 million bid. We all know that the transfer market has become inflated and teams have to pay exorbitant amounts for even half-decent players. If Barcelona want to sign Paulinho, it’ll cost them at least €30 million. That is too much. For a player approaching 30, that money is better spent elsewhere. Barça have apparently lost out on Dani Ceballos, who is an upgrade over Paulinho. If there is any chance that his mind could be changed, the money set aside for Paulinho would be better spent in bringing in the 20 year-old Spaniard.
Too many midfielders
The Barcelona midfield is crowded enough as it is. There is a congestion and at this point it’s more quantity over quality. Paulinho would just be another body. This is why Verrratti was the team’s number one priority. He would have been an upgrade over any of the other options Barça had last year. With Denis Suarez, Andre Gomes, Arda Turan, Sergi Samper, Sergi Roberto, Carles Aleña, and Rafinha still on the team, adding someone who won’t be an upgrade over those already there is dumbfounding.
The idea of signing Paulinho appears to be that he would be Sergio Busquets’ back-up. Admittedly, when I read that, it was a little maddening. Barcelona already have players in-house that could fill that role. The few bright spots for Andre Gomes last season was when he played there. Sergi Roberto, if he’s no longer playing right-back could also play there.
But perhaps the player who’s getting snubbed the most is Sergi Samper. It’s time for Barcelona to see what they have in him. His loan last season to Granada turned out to be a disaster once Paco Jemez got fired. He hardly played thanks to a clause in his loan that required Granada to pay appearance fees. Another loan would not benefit Samper. He still looks promising and it’s time to either sink or swim. Barcelona need to start looking to the academy again especially when the objective is not to be a starter but to play in order to give the player starting a rest. There would be less pressure placed on Samper.
As we saw last season, simply throwing money and signing a handful of player does not equate to a successful campaign.
Paulinho is not a bad player but he didn’t work out in the premier league and has spent the last few years toiling away in China. It’s hard to see exactly what the sporting director, Robert, sees in him. They can’t have spent too much time scouting him or watching many Guangzhou games.
The bottom line is that there are better options out there. If they have lost out on Verratti, there are still players like Christian Eriksen or Jean Michael Seri. They’re both younger and have a higher upside than Paulinho.
Whether the transfer happens or not, the fact of the matter is there is interest which begs the question if this board knows what they’re doing.