Former Barcelona midfielder Paulinho has said he “would be delighted” to return to the club and play for the Catalan giants again aftere leaving Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande.
The 32-year-old told Roger Torello at Mundo Deportivo that he would be more than happy to head back to Barcelona for a second spell if the club were interested in his services.
“Barça is a team that 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,” he said. “If I had another chance, and it was something good for both me and my family, I would be delighted.”
Barcelona is reportedly keen on bringing in another midfielder after missing out on Georginio Wijnaldum who has joined Paris Saint-Germain. Finances are an issue but Paulinho says that would be not too much of a problem either.
“For me, the issue of money or the duration of the contract would be a problem, it never has been, especially if Barça is the team that calls you,” he said. “I already showed it when I left Guangzhou to go there charging much less than what I received in China. I’ve never put money ahead in my career, so that wouldn’t be a problem going back there. Also, this time the club would not have to pay a transfer for me.”
Paulinho is a free agent after his contract with Guangzhou Evergrande was terminated by mutual consent. The midfielder had two years left on his deal but had been unable to join up with the squad due to Covid-19 restrictions.
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Paulinho An Unlikely Hero?
The chances of Paulinho returning to Barcelona look slim, although it’s worth noting it was a shock when the Brazilian first arrived at the Camp Nou in 2017 for €40 million from Guangzhou Evergrande.
Paulinho’s transfer was widely derided and he was even mocked during his unveiling at the club when he made a mess of the traditional kick-ups on the Camp Nou pitch, as shown by Squawka Football.
Yet the Brazilian went on to play a key role for Barcelona in 2017-18. He was a regular in the side that won a league and cup double and scored some crucial goals along the way.
Paulinho finished the campaign with 49 appearances for the Catalan side, scoring nine goals, and then headed back to Guangzhou Evergrande on an initial loan with an option to buy which was subsequently taken up.
Messi Convinced Paulinho To Sign
The return of Paulinho could go down well with captain Lionel Messi who initially helped convince the midfielder to come to the Camp Nou. Paulinho told Globoesporte in 2017 how Messi had helped him secure a transfer to the Catalan giants during an international match.
“It was in the friendly in Australia. I had a free-kick, me and Willian were standing over the ball. I was over the ball just to stand there, Willian was going to take it. Messi was far away. When Willian took aim I stepped back, he came over and said, ‘Let’s go to Barcelona,’ he said. “I heard him and said, ‘If you want to take me there, I’m going.’ I mean, he is the best in the world and you hear words like that, it makes you happy, it makes you feel confident.
It’s not yet clear what will happen next to Paulinho but as a free agent he may not lack for offers. The Brazilian is best know for his spells with Tottenham and Barcelona and added in his interview with Mundo Deportivo that his “first option is to return to Europe.”