After news broke this week of a confirmed Paulinho move to Barcelona, we thought it was safe to assume that Barca decided to bite the bullet and hand over the full EUR40 million required by Evergrande’s release clause.
But new rumors reported by Sports Illustrated claim that a large portion of the buyout, a surprising (and possibly unprecedented) EUR7.5 million, came straight from the Brazilian himself.
The claim is based on a post from the Twitter account Catalan Edition, an unofficial news source for all things FC Barcelona.
Prior to the move, Barcelona had been clear that they refused to pay the full release clause, having been previously rejected by Evergrande with offers of EUR20 and EUR25 million.
But despite Guangzhou’s reluctance in signing away their star player, it didn’t take long for the two teams to get back to the negotiating table. The personal investment in his transfer reflected Paulinho’s eagerness to leave Guangzhou for Barcelona, and his ambitions were apparently evident to team manager Phil Scholari.
While his departure may be unfortunate for Evergrande in the short term, it is a momentous shift for Chinese football, typically seen as a destination for players near the end of their careers.
“Losing Paulinho is a loss for the Evergrande, but it is a good thing for Chinese football,” said Shanghai SIPG boss Andre Villas-Boas, according to ESPNFC. “It proves that the world’s leading clubs are paying attention to the Chinese Super League.”
Paying only EUR14 million for the player in 2015, Evergrande bid farewell to their Brazilian midfielder while turning a profit of EUR26 million, with multiple titles earned and many memorable moments along the way.
Paulinho has the CSL and Guangzhou Evergrande to thank for reigniting a stagnant career. After his underwhelming stint with Tottenham Hotspur in London, his 80-plus games in China even earned him a place back on the Brazilian national team.
Goodbye Paulinho, and Godspeed. It’s been a wild ride.