Guangzhou Evergrande midfielder Paulinho has said he hopes to complete a transfer to Barcelona in the coming days.
The Blaugrana have been linked with a shock move for the Brazil international recently, with new manager Ernesto Valverde seemingly keen to beef up his side in the middle of the park. And speaking with Mundo Deportivo (h/t Football Espana), Paulinho was optimistic this one will get done:
"I asked my agent to accelerate everything so that everything's resolved this week because the transfer window is closing and Guangzhou will have time to sign my replacement. If the two clubs reach an agreement, my bit with Barca will be very easy."
Paulinho added that he was "surprised" his club haven't responded to an offer from the La Liga side, although he is evidently keen on the move. He described Barcelona as "the best team I've ever seen, with great players, great fans, a beautiful stadium and a spectacular city."
While some will be shocked to see the 28-year-old attracting interest from the Catalan giants, he has impressed since joining the Chinese Super League outfit. As of late, Paulinho has been in particularly bullish form, per WhoScored.com:
Still, plenty have vivd memories of how Paulinho struggled previously in European football. The Brazilian arrived at Tottenham Hotspur in 2013 with a big reputation, but after a bright start to life at White Hart Lane, he faded badly before being moved on to China.
Paulinho is not a traditional Barcelona player, as his game is based on strong running and physical play; he's at his best when utilised in a team that likes to play direct football. With that in mind, it's no shock so many remain to be convinced about the merits of the Guangzhou man and the Blaugrana's decision to pursue him.
Marco Verratti Move Still on
Jimenez quoted the French newspaper saying "the story isn't over" in terms of the Blaugrana's chase for the Italy midfielder. Verratti is said to be pondering a potential departure from the Parc des Princes, with Barcelona predsident Josep Maria Bartomeu stating "we want Verratti."
As relayed by PSG's official Twitter feed, the 24-year-old recently apologised for comments made by his agent that suggested he was being kept as a prisoner in France:
Still, if the reports are to be believed, a deal may be done yet. And while Paulinho doesn't tick a lot of boxes of the quintessential Barca midfielder, Verratti excels in most of those categories.
As noted by OptaJean, the midfielder loves to get on the ball as often as possible:
What will interest Barcelona is what Verratti does when in possession. At times last term, the likes of Ivan Rakitic, Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez didn't use the ball well enough in the middle of the park, making the Blaugrana uncharacteristically predictable. Verratti, with his quick feet and inventiveness, would eradicate that problem.
PSG would be reluctant to cash in on their midfield metronome, though, especially after a season in which Monaco seized the Ligue 1 title from them. If Verratti were to join Barcelona, it's difficult to think of another player in world football capable filling the void he'd leave.