Barcelona begins spending spree with Paulinho

Reuters
Barcelona makes Brazil midfielder Paulinho its first signing since banking a world-record fee for Neymar after agreeing a 40-million euro fee with Guangzhou Evergrande.
Reuters
Imaginechina

Guangzhou Evergrande's Brazil midfielder Paulinho celebrates after scoring against Liaoning Whowin during their Chinese Super League match in Shenyang, northeast China's Liaoning Province, on August 10, 2017.

Barcelona has agreed a deal with Guangzhou Evergrande to sign Brazilian midfielder Paulinho for 40 million euros (US$47.19 million), the Spanish club said on Monday.

“The new Barcelona player will sign for the next four seasons (and) the player’s buyout clause is set at 120 million euros,” Barcelona said in a statement.

“Paulinho will undergo a club medical on Thursday (when) the signing of the contract and his official presentation will also take place.”

The 29-year-old is Barcelona's first signing since the Spanish giant sold Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month for a world-record 222 million euros, with the Catalans still looking to make further reinforcements.

Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund's Ousmane Dembele have both been targeted by Barcelona as it searches for a player capable of replacing Neymar's spark on the left of the attack.

Coutinho has handed in a transfer request at Anfield. Barcelona has had two bids — with the second bid worth 100 million euros — rejected for Coutinho and is poised to return with a third offer, according to reports in Spain.

The arrival of Coutinho's Brazil teammate Paulinho will allow Barcelona to add more muscle and energy to a midfield which struggled to keep control of games last season.

"Paulinho is a player who stands out for being a powerful midfielder at 1.82-meter tall who can get into the box and play anywhere in the middle of the park. He has plenty of experience in the game on various continents,” Barcelona added.

The announcement of Barcelona's third signing of the summer transfer window after Gerard Deulofeu and Nelson Semedo came just hours after the Catalans suffered a 1-3 home defeat to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup first leg on Sunday.

After the game, midfielder Sergio Busquets put pressure on the club's board by claiming that Barcelona had to strengthen its squad before the transfer window closes on August 31.

Make an impact

Paulinho failed to make an impact in the English Premier League with Tottenham Hotspur after joining from Corinthians and departed to Guangzhou Evergrande in 2015 for 14 million euros.

While in the Chinese top flight Paulinho found his best form, scoring 25 goals in 95 games for Guangzhou, and earned a recall to the Brazilian national side.

Coutinho, meanwhile, was not included in the 22-man travelling squad for the first leg of Liverpool's UEFA Champions League playoff against Hoffenheim, the EPL club said on Monday.

Coutinho also missed Liverpool's 3-3 draw at Watford on Saturday due to a back injury, with manager Juergen Klopp conceding he had no control over the 25-year-old's future at the club.

Under current UEFA rules, Coutinho's participation in the playoff round against Hoffenheim would not jeopardize a move in the current transfer window. The Brazil international will remain eligible to feature for another club in next month's Champions League group-stage.

The Merseyside club will also be without striker Daniel Sturridge, who has failed to recover from a thigh injury sustained during the preseason.

Hoffenheim hosts Liverpool at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena on Tuesday before the two sides meet again at Anfield next week.

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