A good few eyebrows were raised when Brazil midfielder Paulinho re-joined Guangzhou Evergrande on a one-year loan after a season at Barcelona. But by recruiting the ever-efficient South American Guangzhou have given themselves a great chance of winning what would turn out to be their eighth CSL title on the trot.
Many fans and pundits alike believed that one of any number of European powerhouses would have snapped up the services of the Samba star because of his impressive displays for his national team in the FIFA World Cup in Russia this summer.
But the fact that the former Tottenham Hotspur ace has agreed return to play his football in the Chinese Super League is seen by some as testimony to the rise in standard and popularity of the game in China.
The loan deal could well be made permanent, of course, with Guangzhou ensuring they have an option to buy Paulinho next summer. And if indeed that turns out to be the case the fee is expected to be a lot more than the £36million than the Catalan giants paid for the schemer little less than a year ago.
Speaking to the Guangzhou website, Paulinho says he has an eye on personal success with the club but is also keen on promoting the CSL. He said:
“The level of the Super League has improved year by year and the development prospects are very good. After training in Evergrande and Barcelona and following the Brazilian national team in the World Cup, I got a good experience.
“I chose to return to the Super League this time, hoping to bring more championships to Guangzhou and Guangzhou fans. I also hope to give the Super League more excitement!”
Paulinho, who is aged 29, played 84 games for Guangzhou in his first spell in China following his move from Spurs for a fee of £10million three years ago. It is fair to say that he shone during his first stint but none the less his switch to Barcelona was viewed by many as an unlikely one…until it happened!
Following a league and cup double-winning season with Barcelona Paulinho headed off to Brazil’s World Cup campaign and played in all five of their games and won many plaudits for his dazzling displays along the way.
Paulinho is the fourth Brazilian player at Guangzhou after Anderson Talisca joined – also on loan – from Benfica last month. Guangzhou’s Italian boss Fabio Cannavaro can now call on four Samba aces from his squad because he has also recruited Anderson Talisca on loan from Benfica.
Meanwhile, one player who won’t be moving to the CSL is Ronaldo, who reportedly turned down a mega-bucks contract offer from an un-named CSL outfit worth in the region of £180million. Instead, the Portugal superstar moved to Juventus.