The reaction from Barcelona supporters when their club announced the signing of Paulinho from Guangzhou Evergrande last month was nothing short of extraordinary.
Barça fans saw the Brazilian midfielder’s purchase as an affront to the club’s values and made their feelings crystal clear on social media.
Paulinho was strong and good at arriving late in the box to score goals but could he pass the ball? Midfielders at Barcelona *have* to be pass-masters but the South American didn’t appear to tick that particular box.
Despite supporters expressing their dismay at the potential transfer, Barcelona went ahead and signed him anyway, forking out a cool €40 million for his services.
He made his debut in a 2-0 win against Alaves before the international break, coming on for the final two minutes, and some Barça fans basically took the p*** out of their new signing.
There were a few jeers when he entered the fray while a ludicrous video of his ‘highlights’ went viral on social media.
The turning point came against Getafe
Paulinho then made substitute appearances against Espanyol and Juventus before his big moment - the turning point - away at Getafe last weekend.
The much-maligned 29-year-old scored a precious late winning goal at the Coliseum Alfonso Pérez to endear himself both to his teammates and some - some - of the club’s supporters.
In that one moment, Paulinho showed exactly why Ernesto Valverde had signed him by demonstrating the qualities that made him such a big hit in the Chinese Super League: power, pace, and ruthlessness in front of goal.
Paulinho was superb against Eibar on Tuesday night
He then followed that up by scoring his second goal for the club on his first start against Eibar on Tuesday night.
Paulinho produced an excellent individual performance - as this video of his highlights shows…
His performance has surprised many people
To the surprise of, well, just about everyone, it seems Barcelona have signed a genuinely good footballer who brings something unique to the team.
His link-up play with his new teammates, especially Lionel Messi, has been promising and it’s still very early days so expect that he’ll continue to improve as he adjusts to Barça’s style.
Meanwhile, here’s how Barcelona fans on Twitter reacted to Paulinho’s performance…