Exclusive interview: Paulinho on Tottenham Hotspur, Brazil, Corinthians, Mano Menezes and links with Real Madrid
Corinthians under-performed in the 2013 Brasileirão following your departure. Were they too reliant on you?
“Not in any way. Corinthians has a spectacular group of players. The collective is always more important than the individual. Unfortunately, this year they failed to put together a good run of games.”
What do you think about Mano Menezes returning to Corinthians?
“I think he’s a good choice. Mano has proven over the last few years how professional he is. I worked with him in the past and I back Corinthians to win with his return.”
Was it harder to adapt at Tottenham Hotspur with the change of manager [Tim Sherwood replaced André Villas-Boas] and being injured so soon after joining?
“It was a new process for me, but from the beginning I believed everything would work quickly. My new teammates welcomed me and the club structure impressed me. All this helped me to be calm to perform my job on the pitch.”
What are the main differences between Villas-Boas and Sherwood?
“They both understand football and are professionals. Tim has the advantage of knowing the club, in addition to hae being a football player. But both are amazing professionals.”
What is your preferred position?
“I always liked having more freedom to push forward. I can also play in a three man midfield. Here in England, I’m used more like what the English call a box-to-box midfielder.”
What differences do you see between the Premier League and the Brasileirão?
“Here in the Premier League you need to be very quick mentally. Spaces are shorter and the game is much more tactical and tight.”
Has your style evolved playing in England?
“In England, I have acquired more tactical knowledge and improved the speed of my decision making. Today, I see myself as a more mature and dynamic player.”
The team has been inconsistent in the league. What is wrong?
“We are going through an unstable time. We are training hard to find the right solution to our problems. Our team has great quality and I'm sure we will come out of this situation.”
Has the loss of Gareth Bale [sold to Real Madrid for a reported fee of €91 million in September] weighed heavily?
“It is clear that the loss of a player of Bale’s level is going to have an affect. The team will take time to adapt to not having him. But like I said, Tottenham have amazing players and never depend on only one. Our collective is very strong.”
Real Madrid are reportedly interested in signing you. What do you think of them? Has their been anything concrete?
“I leave these matters with my manager, but without doubt it is good recognition for any player to be coveted by a club with the history of Real Madrid. My head, however, is completely focused on returning to play and win at Tottenham.”
Do you ever think of the 2014 FIFA World Cup? How are you preparing psychologically?
“It is impossible not to think about it. It is the dream of every player. Imagine winning the World Cup in your own country. It would be the happiest day of my career. I’m trying to contain the anxiety and focus on work. Things will happen in time.”
How do you see the competition in the squad with Lucas Leiva, Sandro, Ramires and Luiz Gustavo?
“They are great players, each with their own characteristics. It is very good for the Seleção and for [Head Coach Luiz Felipe] Scolari to be able to rely on names like these.”