Barcelona are reportedly set to make a €20 million bid for Guangzhou Evergrande midfielder Paulinho.
Sport Witness shared the cover from Catalan daily Sport:
Joaquim Piera of Sport reported on Saturday that Barcelona had opened talks with the Chinese Super League club having scouted Paulinho throughout the season.
Director of football administration Raul Sanllehi is said to have met with the player's camp last Wednesday in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Paulinho told Globo Esporte (h/t Sport): "They spoke directly with my agent. Since there's been an offer and talks, they've been in contact with him on a daily basis. There's no window to say yes or no, given Barcelona still need to negotiate with Guangzhou."
The midfielder also spoke of the dilemma he faces given Barca's interest compared with how happy and settled he and his partner are in China, so the club are yet to agree terms with him.
Paulinho joined the CSL in 2015 after two difficult years with Tottenham Hotspur. According to Squawka's Oliver Young-Myles, the Brazilian has enjoyed something of a renaissance in China having "rediscovered the form that made him so highly rated in the first place."
Indeed, he has appeared nine times for Brazil's national team in the last 18 months despite playing at a lower level to many of the stars available to manager Tite.
Football journalists Rafael Hernandez and Rik Sharma reacted to Barcelona's pursuit of the former Tottenham player:
Despite his seemingly improved form and Barcelona's desperation for midfield reinforcements, it would seem a bizarre move.
Even if he has continued to play for the Selecao, at club level he is ostensibly facing opponents of a substantially lower calibre to those in La Liga or the UEFA Champions League, two competitions Barca have ambitions of winning every year.
Guangzhou are also reluctant to part with him, as any replacement from abroad will effectively cost double because of new rules implementing a 100 per cent tax on foreign players.
Per Reuters' Michael Church (h/t the Daily Mail), Guangzhou manager Luiz Felipe Scolari said: "His release clause is €40 million (£35 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."
Bringing in a functional player to add protection to Barca's defence in a similar vein to Casemiro at Real Madrid could have its uses this summer, but there are better options out there than one who would be a significant gamble, so the club might be better off if Guangzhou refuse to part with him.
Meanwhile, according to L'Equipe (h/t Marca), Paris Saint-Germain have joined Barcelona in the hunt for Ousmane Dembele of Borussia Dortmund this summer and have made contact with his representatives.
The Ligue 1 giants see him as an alternative to Alexis Sanchez and Kylian Mbappe, having struggled thus far to sign them from Arsenal and Monaco, respectively, and they could potentially offer a much stronger financial package for the Frenchman than Barca.
Signing him was already a difficult task for the club given Dortmund's desire to keep him, but that has been made even harder if PSG are firmly in the race to capture him.