Brazilian international Paulinho has returned to Guangzhou Evergrande after one season at Barcelona.
The 29-year-old joined Barcelona last summer, featuring in 34 games in La Liga, scoring nine goals and assisting a further three.
The midfielder's performances were deemed good enough by Brazilian manager Tite to include him in La Selecao's World Cup squad, but it appears that the Barcelona hierarchy deem his services to be surplus to requirements and he will be sent back to China for a year-long loan deal worth a reported £44.2m - with an option to buy included.
“The level of the Super League has improved year by year and the development prospects are very good,” Paulinho said, according to the Guangzhou Evergrande website.
“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!”
The club also released a statement (via Squawka) emphasizing their joy at having the Brazilian back in their ranks:
“We firmly believe that the return of Paulinho will comprehensively enhance the overall strength of the Guangzhou team, enhance the team’s midfield defensive hardness and offensive intensity, upgrade the speed and depth of the team’s three-dimensional attack, accelerate the team’s optimised formation combination and tactical cooperation, greatly enhance the enthusiasm of Evergrande fans, encourage the team to work together to create a brilliant future for Guangzhou football!”
Paulinho initially joined Guangzhou in 2015 after spending two seasons with Tottenham.
There he enjoyed a sustained spell of good form, featuring in 95 matches and bagging 28 goals.
He moved to Spain in 2017 for a reported €40m, meaning that Barcelona will make a tidy profit on the deal.
Paulinho rejoins manager Fabio Cannavaro and his Guangzhou side, who currently sit in 5th position after 11 games in the Chinese Super League.