The defender has scored only once in six seasons, so the Brazilian could be in China for a long time to come if his team-mate has his way
Barcelona target Paulinho will have the blessing of team-mate Feng Xiaoting to leave Guangzhou Evergrande for Camp Nou – on the proviso he helps the defender reach an unlikely goal target of 10.
The Brazil international this week claimed he has an offer on the table to move to Camp Nou, with new Barca boss Ernesto Valverde said to be keen to bolster his midfield.
While a switch to the Catalan club would be attractive for any player, Guangzhou team-mate Feng – who has scored only once in the CSL in the past six seasons – wants Paulinho to remain in China and help him improve his goalscoring record.
Feng, who is part of a Guangzhou side chasing a seventh straight CSL title, posted a somewhat tongue-in-cheek message to his team-mate on social media.
“I heard the news this morning that Barcelona had submitted a bid for Paulinho,” China international Feng posted on his Weibo account on Monday.
“Mark my words, you are not allowed to leave until you rack up 10 assists and help me score 10 goals.”
The Brazilian wasted an opportunity to provide Feng with his first goal of the season in Guangzhou’s 2-0 CSL victory against Hebei on Sunday, but the 31-year-old is willing to let Paulinho off.
“Paulinho repeatedly said sorry to me when we returned to our dressing room,” Feng added. “What should I do? I could only forgive him of course!”
Former Tottenham midfielder Paulinho struggled to make an impression in the Premier League but has been one of the CSL’s most successful overseas imports.
The 28-year-old has hit four league goals in 13 games this season and he also scored in both legs of an AFC Champions League tie against Kashima Antlers to help Guangzhou into the quarter-finals of the competition.
Despite Barcelona’s interest in Paulinho, Guangzhou manager Luiz Felipe Scolari believes a change in the CSL’s transfer regulations means Paulinho will stay at the club due to new transfer rules in the league making it harder to sign foreign players.
“His release clause is €40 million and none of the Chinese clubs will let their key players go because it would be difficult and expensive to find a replacement due to the new rules,” Scolari told reporters.
— Paulinho (@paulinhop8) 29 March 2017
Speaking to Globoesporte, Paulinho – who has continued to feature regularly for Brazil after moving to Guangzhou – suggested he is torn over his future as his family is settled in China.
“Right now I am in a very happy moment of my life and in my career so it is difficult for me to decide,” Paulinho said.
“I would have to weigh up a lot of things before making a decision – first of all I have to consider what my wife would say – we live well in China. We like life here – we like the place, the people. On the sporting side we are battling to become champions of Asia.”