South American football expert Tim Vickery believes it’s still too early for Tottenham Hotspur to give up on Paulinho, and maintains that the Brazilian international can become a top Premier League midfielder in time.
Paulinho, 26, established a reputation as one of the leading stars of South American football during his time with Corinthians from 2010 to 2013, winning the Brasileirao in 2011 and the Copa Libertadores and Club World Cup in 2012, before a £17 million move to Spurs last summer.
Arriving at White Hart Lane to high expectations, as well as comparisons to Frank Lampard, he has since struggled to live up to his price tag, however, and fans have grown frustrated with his mediocre performances.
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While a potential departure has already been rumoured, Vickery insists that it would be a mistake to move him on at this stage, and thinks his struggles so far are more down to the team’s failings as a whole.
‘I think he’d probably thrive in a number of places [if he left],’ he told the BBC World Football Phone-in. ‘Chelsea are reported to be interested in him.
‘I was at White Hart Lane last Wednesday [for the 3-1 Capital One Cup win over Nottingham Forest], where he didn’t do particularly well, but I don’t think he did badly either.
‘The problem wasn’t him; the problem was Roberto Soldado, who doesn’t show or get behind the line.
‘There are two wingers there playing on the wrong foot, who are looking to cut inside without the full-backs overlapping on the outside to give the option, and the whole collective context was wrong.
‘I think Paulinho is a player who needs the collective context to be right because he’s not going to conjure something from nothing.
‘What he does do is make that run into the box well. He needs that relationship with the centre-forward.
‘I wouldn’t right him off yet,’ he added. ‘I’m always astonished these days in England how much people want to make instant judgements.
‘Far, far better and wiser judges than myself rate him extremely highly. Corinthians won the Brazilian League, the Liberatadores and the Club World title and he was the best in all of those, and once he came out of the side they were never the same.’
After scoring six goals in 30 league games during his debut season, Paulinho has been restricted to just one top-flight appearance as a substitute this term under new manager Mauricio Pochettino, with his five starts all coming in cup action.