Barcelona have finally dipped into their Neymar fund, all £196 million of it.
In what must be considered one of the most bizarre signings of the summer, the club extracted €40 million from their war chest for Paulinho. This is the man who was voted Tottenham’s worst player in history during a March poll.
And despite having only featured for Guangzhou Evergrande since his sheepish Spurs departure, he is now sporting the shirt of one of the world’s biggest clubs.
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Rumours of the move have been alive and well for over a month yet to see it confirmed has both baffled and amused fans. It’s certainly fuelled the campaign for Josep Maria Bartomeu’s removal, that’s for sure.
Let’s give Blaugrana the benefit of the doubt, though.
Since leaving Tottenham, Paulinho has scored 28 goals in 95 appearances in China. His efforts helped Evergrande to two league titles and even the AFC Champions League.
He has also salvaged his position in the Brazilian national team with nine caps and four goals in the past two years.
Now however, the 29-year-old is being trusted to add muscle and solidarity to a Barcelona midfield that was so scandalously exposed in the Spanish Super Cup.
Even with all the recent success, albeit in China, Barcelona fans still aren’t convinced and with good reason. Paulinho has essentially rescued his career but not propelled it into Barcelona territory.
Doubts over the Brazilian were all too apparent at his unveiling at the Nou Camp on Thursday.
The actual on-pitch routine went soundly with the usual series of photos and keepy ups. However, to say the day went badly in the club shop would be putting it mildly despite new Paulinho shirts hitting the rails.
According to Goal.com, a club shop employee conceded that they didn’t sell a single Paulinho shirt during the player’s very own unveiling. Let’s all take a moment to let that sink in.
On the day of Neymar’s announcement at Paris Saint-Germain, a whopping 10,000 jerseys were sold with his name adorning the back. That’s in spite of the fact each shirt cost £140 each.
Nevertheless, there was some good news for Barcelona later that day. On Thursday afternoon – after the ceremony – the club shop did manage to shift ONE Paulinho top.
Take a look at the first buyer below:
If current sales rates continue, that particular fan might want to hold onto his shirt, it could become something of an antique.
Do you think Paulinho is a good signing for Barcelona? Let us know by leaving a comment below.