The saga of José Paulo Bezerra Maciel Júnior – aka Paulinho – has come to a slightly expected conclusion in Guangzhou this weekend, with the box-to-box midfielder headed to Barcelona in a EUR40 million move.
Rumors that Paulinho would be leaving Guangzhou Evergrande to return to Europe have been swirling around for months, with both Barcelona and Bayern Munich mentioned as possible destinations back in April. Paulinho previously played in the UK, for Tottenham Hotspur, before coming to China in the summer of 2015.
The potential-move chatter hit a fever pitch in late June, when Metro Tottenham reported that Barcelona were planning to sign the 28-year-old midfielder for around EUR25 million after their first offer of EUR20 million was rejected by Evergrande.
Since then, there have been back-and-forth closed-door negotiations and ample speculation that Barcelona was unwilling to pay Paulinho's EUR40 million release clause. But after losing Neymar, one of the club's key players, it appears Barca has decided to fork over the dough and move the 28-year-old Brazilian back to Europe.
Paulinho’s tenure in Guangzhou will be fondly remembered for the championships he helped the team win, as well as that epic 40-yard goal he scored back in 2015 and, back in April, that unforgettable gambling scandal with Japanese porn star Tsukasa Aoi.
[Image via Metro Tottenham]