Barcelona midfielder Paulinho has returned to Guangzhou Evergrande on a season-long loan just a year after making the move in the opposite direction.
The Brazil international started all his nation’s games at the World Cup and has now rejoined Guangzhou after leaving the Chinese Super League club to move to the Nou Camp last summer.
The LaLiga champions announced the deal on their website, confirming Guangzhou have an option to sign the 29-year-old former Tottenham man on a permanent deal.
“FC Barcelona and Guangzhou Evergrande have reached an agreement for the loan transfer of Paulinho Bezerra for one season, with a subsequent purchase option for the Chinese club,” a statement on the Barcelona website read.
“Barca publicly expresses its gratitude to Paulinho for his commitment and dedication and wishes him luck and success in the future.
“Paulinho made 49 appearances for Barca and scored nine goals, all in La Liga. The Brazilian midfielder debuted on August 26, 2017 in Barca’s 2-0 league triumph at Alaves. Paulinho’s first goal with Barca came in his fourth match, and was the game-winner in the 84th minute of a 2-1 come-from-behind victory at Getafe.
“Paulinho stood out as an attacking midfielder who easily made his way into the opposition penalty area. He also made key contributions defensively throughout the season. In fact, his performances at Barca were key to him being called to play for Brazil in the 2018 World Cup, where he has been a mainstay for ‘La Canarinha’.”
Barcelona are set to announce Arthur as their first signing of the summer, after the Gremio midfielder announced he will join the club this month.
The Spanish giants had earlier agreed for the transfer to take place in January, although Andres Iniesta‘s departure has opened up a space in midfield.
The clubs had agreed upon a €30 million fee with an additional €9m potentially due in add-ons earlier, but now Barca have had to pay an additional fee so as to make the switch happen six months early.
In a press conference on Friday, Arthur said, “Barcelona have asked to bring my arrival forward to this summer.
“I did not participate in the negotiations, nor did I participate directly in my transfer – it has been a matter between the two clubs.
— Grêmio FBPA (@Gremio) July 6, 2018
“I will probably travel to Barcelona this weekend. There are still details [to be finalised] but I’m very happy to be able to wear the shirt of the club I have always dreamed of playing for, the biggest club in the world.
“I have been told wonderful things about the club, the city and the fans. I have high expectations about the move.”
Arthur will join Brazilian countrymen Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho at the Camp Nou, although there have been rumours of an offer for the latter from China.
The 21-year-old was emotional at the time of announcing his decision and said he will be back to Gremio one day.
“I have spent seven years fighting for Gremio and the Arena Gremio is one of the places where I most like to be,” he added. “I am eternally grateful to everyone at Gremio.
“This is a see you later rather than a goodbye. I hope to come back one day. I’m very proud to leave the club through the front door.”
“FC Barcelona roundly deny any irregularity in the matter,” the club said in a statement on their website.
Abidal, who is now a sporting director at Barca, received a liver transplant in April 2012 at the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona, eventually returning to the game a year later before retirement in 2014.
According to El Confidencial, a telephonic conversation that involved former club president Sandro Rosell was tapped and it suggested that the club had illegally acquired a liver for the player.
Meanwhile, Rossell is due to face trial on money laundering charges in connection with Brazilian TV rights sales, and was also investigated for his part in the deal which brought Brazilian superstar Neymar to Barcelona.
A Barcelona court said it had decided not to proceed with a crime of organ trafficking after having investigated the case for more than a year and not finding any evidence.
“The club are saddened by the lack of rigour in the spreading of such information about such a sensitive issue,” said the Barcelona statement.