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Paulinho is set to fly to Barcelona on Sunday from Chinese Super League leaders Guangzhou Evergrande after they activated the former Tottenham midfielder’s €40 million buyout clause, according to multiple reports in China.
Chinese media reported on Saturday evening that the 29-year-old Brazilian would travel to Spain to complete the move after Barcelona triggered Paulinho’s release. Ernesto Valverde’s side are looking to bolster their squad following the world record €222m sale of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain last week.
Paulinho has been linked to a move to Barcelona throughout the summer but Evergrande chairman Xu Jiayin had previously stated he would not be allowed to leave before the end of the season due to the cost associated in replacing him.
The ex-Corinthians star has been a key figure for Evergrande this season, with his goals vital in Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side retaining their position at the top of the league as well as progressing to the quarterfinals of the Asian Champions League.
Guangzhou Evergrande midfielder Paulinho is set to sign for Barcelona.
The move could prove problematic for Guangzhou, who lead the league by five points from Shanghai SIPG. With the Chinese Super League’s transfer window closing in mid-July, Evergrande will be unable to sign a replacement.
“We don’t want him to go but I’m happy for him as it’s a chance of a lifetime,” an unnamed Guangzhou payer was quoted on sina.com.
“It is Barcelona. I’m happy for him as we have been brothers for the last two years.”
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch