HONG KONG (Reuters) – Luiz Felipe Scolari believes Barcelona’s decision to pay 40 million euros ($47.26 million) to buy Brazilian midfielder Paulinho out of his Guangzhou Evergrande contract reflects positively on the Chinese Super League champions.
The Brazil midfielder was left out of Guangzhou’s line-up for their 2-1 win over Henan Jianye in the Chinese Super League on Sunday and is expected to end his two-year stint with the club this week after flying to Spain to sign for the Catalan side.
“Paulinho is a player with high individual quality, he is an outstanding player, both for his club and for the national team,” said Guangzhou’s manager Scolari.
“The high price paid by Barcelona in order to sign him is a strong recognition of Guangzhou Evergrande Football Club.
“We wish him all the best and that he can embrace a bright future,” added Scolari of his 29-year-old compatriot, who joined Guangzhou from Tottenham Hotspur in 2015.
Paulinho has been in stellar form for both club and country since the turn of the year, scoring a hat-trick in Brazil’s 4-1 win over Uruguay in March in World Cup qualifying while also being a key factor in Guangzhou’s dominance of the Super League.
Evergrande lead the domestic standings and have also qualified for the quarter-finals of the Asian Champions League, where they will face fellow Chinese side Shanghai SIPG in the first leg next week.
The loss of Paulinho will give Andre Villas-Boas’s SIPG side a boost in the continental competition and in the league, where they trail Guangzhou by five points.
“Losing Paulinho is a loss for Evergrande, but it is a good thing for Chinese football,” said former Chelsea and Tottenham manager Villas-Boas.
“It proves that the world’s leading clubs are paying attention to the Chinese Super League.”
($1 = 0.8463 euros)
(Reporting by Michael Church; Editing by Rex Gowar)