Spurs have been talking to Inter Milan about Fredy Guarin and Corinthians about Paulinho. Whichever one they sign one thing is for sure; they want an athletic central midfielder. Last season Scott Parker’s performance levels dipped as his aging legs started to betray him. When fit Sandro was dominant but he continues to have injury issues and for all his pretty footwork Moussa Dembele didn’t contribute enough in the way of goals, only involved in 8 all season. So Spurs want an athletic presence, defensively responsible and capable of getting goals. In other words, they want the complete modern central midfielder, and they are going to have to pay a lot to get one. Paulinho and Guarin offer such quality. They are both very similar players, so which one should Spurs push harder for to sign?
Guarin would cost £21m and Paulinho has a release clause of £17m. Although it sounds like a marginal difference, Spurs are known as the toughest negotiators in Europe and won’t pay more if they feel they can get the same quality elsewhere for less. Fredy Guarin is supposedly their first choice. He has long been a well regarded player, but has taken his performance on a level at Inter Milan. He arrived at Porto as one of the most highly rated players in South America but after a decent first few years he didn’t quite kick on. A move to Inter has reinvigorated him. This is because he has been given more responsibility. He has been given ‘the keys’.
This year from his central midfield position he scored 10 and set up 12 in his 47 appearances with his spectacular long range shooting a particular highlight. He has a good range of passing but his main strength is his drive. He has some Steven Gerrard like qualities to him in his ability to get forwards to score goals and like Gerrad in his younger days, a willingness to get involved defensively and to drag his team forward by the scruff of the neck. Guarin stood out in a very disappointing Inter side. The concern for Spurs will be that the price is a lot for a plyer who has had a couple of quiet years. However, much of this can be put down to the increased responsibility he was given at Inter.
Paulinho is a little more elegant than Guarin in possession but not quite as driving and dominating. Paulinho is very tactically responsible and clever. He was the midfield fulcrum in the Corinthians side which won the World Club Cup and seems to be first in line for a similar role with Brazil at the World Cup. This shows his pedigree and the level to which he is trusted with such an important role. As a classy distributor of the ball and a strong and tenacious defensive presence he offers the combination of traits that AVB will be looking for.
His ball striking and technique is exemplary and like Guarin has certain traits of a young Steven Gerrard. In fact, he is quite similar to Moussa Dembele more than anyone but with a better record in terms of goal contribution. He’s strong when protecting the ball and is a glidy and tricky runner.
Spurs would be doing well to sign either player. Paulinho has been more consistent with Guarin reaching greater highs. Paulinho is a more natural compliment to what they have already but Guarin would bring something different in terms of his drive and relentlessness. Both are exceptional athletes and good technicians. Both would be ideal fits for Spurs’ tactical set up. It could come down to price, which would give Paulinho the advantage. Guarin would be riskier but could pay off better and Paulinho is a rock solid safe purchase which is always reassuring given the moeny he will cost.