Luiz Felipe Scolari has confirmed Paulinho’s departure from Guangzhou Evergrande for Barcelona, claiming the Brazilian’s switch to La Liga reflects positively on the Chinese Super League champions.
Barcelona have activated Paulinho’s €40 million buyout clause after two failed attempts to sign the 29-year-old, who has excelled for club and country so far this year.
“Paulinho is a player with high individual quality, he is an outstanding player, both for his club and for the national team,” the Brazilian World Cup-winning coach said after seeing his Guangzhou side defeat Henan Jianye 2-1 on Sunday.
“The high price paid by Barcelona in order to sign him is a strong recognition of Guangzhou Evergrande Football Club.
“We wish him all the best and that he can embrace a bright future.”
Paulinho joined Guangzhou two years ago after a disappointing spell in the Premier League with Tottenham and was a key part of his club’s 2015 Asian Champions League win and successive Chinese Super League titles.
His form in the Chinese Super League earned him a recall for the Brazil national team and he scored a hat trick in the 4-1 win over Uruguay in March, while Guangzhou currently lead the domestic league and are into the quarterfinals of the Asian Champions League.
Scolari’s team will face fellow Chinese side Shanghai SIPG in the continental competition, with the first leg to be played next week, and SIPG coach Andre Villas-Boas believes Paulinho’s switch to Spain is a positive for Chinese football.
“Losing Paulinho is a loss for Evergrande, but it is a good thing for Chinese football,” the Portuguese coach said.
“It proves that the world’s leading clubs are paying attention to the Chinese Super League.”
Michael Church has written about Asian football for more than 20 years and mainly covers the Chinese game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @michaelrgchurch