Philippe Coutinho has urged his Barcelona teammates Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi to give Paulinho time after the duo are said to be growing increasingly frustrated with the midfielder's recent poor performances.
The 29-year-old's level of form has dropped in recent weeks in comparison to his blistering start at Camp Nou, where his lacklustre performance in Barcelona's 1-1 draw with Las Palmas has brought his technical abilities into question.
Despite having scored eight goals and provided two assists in 25 league appearances this term, Messi and Suarez are said to be irritated with his lack of fitness which is proving costly to results.
However, Coutinho has attempted to explain that the Brazilian's lack of rest is a contributing factor to his lethargic appearances and that he simply needs rest to put the doubts over his ability to bed - as per Diario Gol, via the Express.
I don't want to see Paulinho start in any game ever again. 40M for a player of Gumbau's quality.— Josip (@jperkovic93) March 1, 2018
The Spanish report claims Coutinho is supporting his national compatriot as he claims Paulinho's decline comes as a direct result of having played over 12 months in China prior to joining Barcelona in August in a deal worth £36.5m.
Having played in all but one of Barcelona's 26 league matches so far this term the 29-year-old has been a constant figure in Ernesto Valverde’s side and is likely to be mirroring the club's drop in output after dropping four points from their last four league games.
Barcelona's lead at top of La Liga has been cut to five points with 12 games remaining as Atletico Madrid look to take advantage of the leaders recent drop in output as the two come to blows on Sunday afternoon.