So far this season Leverkusen midfielder Paulinho had been limited to 24 minutes of Bundesliga football after being frozen out by trainer Gerardo Seoane and lined-up for a transfer. On Saturday under new coach Xabi Alonso, he made another cameo appearance and scored a fine goal. Is there still a future for the Brazilian at the Bay Arena under the new coach?
After four years at the club without ever really fully fulfilling the potential that led Leverkusen to sign him from Vasco da Gama for €18.5 million back in 2018, it was reported that he was up for sale in the summer for as little as €5 million. There was reported interest from Palmeiras, Atletico Mineiro, Vasco da Gama and Botafogo, but no move materialised.
The player however took to social media to insist he was staying with the club writing, “I shall firmly and strongly remain with Leverkusen,” the 22-year-old noted, “I’m prepared to help, as has always been my intention.”
Seoane was asked during the post-match press conference after the loss to Augsburg on matchday 2 about the reasons for Paulinho’s absence from the squad and the Swiss trainer gave his reasons. “With Paulinho, there are talk” he explained, “We didn’t want a player in the line-up who is not 100 percent focused.”
Left out of the squad again for the matchday 6 game with Hertha Berlin saw the player posting on social media a picture of him working out at home during half time. The Bild newspaper wrote that this was the player provoking the club, which brough a swift retort from Paulinho on Twitter.
“Provocation? I’ve trained for 2 hours since I arrived and won’t stop preparing myself. The POLITICAL not sporting decision for me not to be involved is not my problem.
“Bayer had the economic choice to transfer me & decided to keep me here & pay my salary. I’ll always prepare and help my teammates. I’ll follow my training so you can see whether the decision (next game) was down to or will be down to sporting reasons.”
The relationship between player and club looked to have completely broken down, but the arrival of Xabi Alonso as the new coach with a fresh broom might provide a fresh slate for Paulinho. It may be too late with the midfielder’s contract running out next summer, but a blossoming relationship with Alonso could see a turnaround in the situation. He is a talent that is not being realised right now, it would be a real shame for the club to sell him and then see him excel elsewhere.
Over to you Xabi.