Paulinho set to leave Barcelona, return to China

Paulinho

Paulinho joined Barca last August from Guangzhou Evergrande and despite impressing at Camp Nou the 29-year-old has been heavily linked with a return to his former club.

According to reports from Spanish media outlet (h/t Caught Offside), Don Balon, Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde wants Manchester United midfielder - Paul Pogba, to replace outgoing Brazilian worldwide Paulinho, who recently joined Guangzhou Evergrande in China on a loan deal.

"Welcome back", Guangzhou wrote on their official website alongside a picture of the 29-year-old, who formed part of Brazil's World Cup squad in Russian Federation.

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Paulinho played 34 games and scored nine goals as Barcelona won La Liga last term, and started all five of Brazil's World Cup games in Russian Federation.

But in the latter stages of the season, Paulinho lost his momentum but nonetheless, was effective coming off the bench.

Therefore, his departure will be seen as an even bigger surprise following his incredible performances last campaign.

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Previously, Paulinho, who turns 30 on July 25, helped Guangzhou to three consecutive league titles and an Asian Champions League during his first spell in China.

"The level of the Super League has improved year by year and the development prospects are very good", Paulinho said, according to the Guangzhou Evergrande website. "I also hope to give the Super League more excitement".

However, the absence of Paulinho next season could prove to be a huge blow for Ernesto Valverde's men.

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