Football News

Paulinho: I would be delighted to return to Barcelona, they wouldn’t have to pay a transfer fee

By Ben Green

Published: 14:24, 24 June 2021

Former Barcelona midfielder Paulinho has opened the door on a return to the Camp Nou after leaving Guangzhou Evergrande.

Paulinho, 32, enjoyed a productive spell at Barca in 2017/18, in which he featured 49 times across all competitions and scored nine goals as Ernesto Valverde’s side won a domestic double (La Liga and the Copa del Rey).

Having initially joined from Guangzhou Evergrande in the Chinese Super League, Paulinho returned to the Far East after 12 months in Catalonia, but he recently became a free agent after his contracted was terminated by mutual agreement earlier this month.

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The 56-capped Brazil international is now eyeing up his next adventure and has refused to rule out the possibility of returning to Barca, saying his preference is to move back to Europe, and that he would be “delighted” if Ronald Koeman picked up the phone.

He told Mundo Deportivo: “Barca are a team I know well.

“I spent an unforgettable year there, both at the club and in the city, and we won the League and the Copa del Rey. If I had another chance, and it was a good thing for both me and my family, I would be delighted [to return].

“For me, the issue of money or the duration of the contract wouldn’t be a problem, it never has been, and less so if Barca is the team that calls you.

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“I already demonstrated this when I left Guangzhou [by going] there [and] charging much less than I received in China.

“I’ve never put money ahead of my career, so that wouldn’t be a problem to go back there. Also, this time the club wouldn’t have to pay a transfer [fee] for me.”

I think he has everything to succeed at Barca”

Koeman has spent little time reinforcing his squad ahead of the 2021/22 season, recruiting no fewer than four players, three of which did not require a transfer fee, while Emerson Royal returned from Real Betis after Barca exercised their option to bring him back.

The qualities of Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay are well-documented, but Emerson’s profile is a little more under the radar, even for Paulinho, who has admitted he has seen little of his compatriot play but backs him to succeed at Barca.

He continued: “Kun, for example, is a top striker. I haven’t seen Emerson [play] in many matches, but [from] what I’ve seen of him he seems to me to be a good player, disciplined, with strength, power. I think he has everything to succeed at Barca.”