Guangzhou Evergrande

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Paulinho leaves Barca after one year to rejoin Guangzhou

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He came, he saw, he conquered (La Liga and Copa del Rey), and now Paulinho is leaving Barcelona after just one season to return to the club from which he came, Guangzhou Evergrande.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

Paulinho’s move to Barcelona was already quite a curious one when it happened last summer: he was already 29 years old, had left Tottenham Hotspur two years earlier after an infamously poor spell in the Premier League, and was making (presumably) far more money playing in the Chinese Super League than he could just about anywhere else in the world. In defense of the transfer and coaching staffs, he proved a totally competent replacement-level player for a side that won two major trophies, at a cost of $47 million.

Of course, Paulinho would have wanted to showcase himself at a higher level ahead of the 2018 World Cup, with his place in the Brazil squad very much still up in the air fewer than 12 months ago. In a sense, it’s a deal that largely worked out for all parties involved.

[ MORE: Ranking World Cup semifinalists | Schedule for semis, final ]

Now, comes the truly strange — perhaps, unsavory — part: the transfer which Guangzhou announced on Sunday is a one-year loan deal with an already-agreed future fee for a permanent transfer. According to reports, that future fee will be considerably larger than the amount Barcelona paid last summer, for a player who will, in 12 months’ time, be two years older at 32.

Essentially, Barcelona will have rented the player for a season, and made a profited — perhaps in the neighborhood of $10 million — on the back-and-forth transaction, rather having paid a rental fee themselves.

Reports: Aubameyang set to join Guangzhou Evergrande

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After years of being linked with big-money transfers to roughly a dozen of Europe’s biggest clubs, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is finally on the move — only he’s not heading anywhere in Europe.

[ MORE: Friday’s transfer rumor roundup | Thursday | Wednesday ]

According to multiple reports from Europe and Asia, the 28-year-old Borussia Dortmund striker is heading Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande, for an eye-popping transfer fee of $87 million.

Borussia Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke refused to label the reports as false and conceded that “speculation surrounding Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will circle for as long as he plays here. We do not comment on that anymore.”

[ KLOPP: We tried, but “Coutinho was desperate” for Barca move ]

The relationship between player and club has been increasingly strained ever since previous transfers to reap the riches of China failed to materialize. Aubameyang was dropped from the team and did not travel for Dortmund’s game away to Stuttgart in November.

Cannavaro to retire and join brother Fabio in China

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SASSUOLO, Italy (AP) Paolo Cannavaro will quit soccer after this weekend and join his brother on the technical staff at Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande.

[ MORE: Alexis Sanchez brace guides Arsenal past Crystal Palace ]

Cannavaro announced on Thursday that Sassuolo’s Serie A match at Roma will be his last.

He says, “A new year, a new life … it will be an odd feeling. I won’t miss the field because it’s a decision I’ve made, but I will miss being around my teammates.”

Cannavaro progressed through the youth team at Napoli and in 1999 joined his older brother Fabio at Parma, where he spent six years. The defender then spent a season at Hellas Verona before rejoining Napoli and making more than 200 appearances in eight years at his hometown club.

Cannavaro moved to Sassuolo in 2014.

Fabio Cannavaro, who won the World Cup with Italy as a player in 2006, was announced as Guangzhou Evergrande coach last month.

Paolo Cannavaro, the younger brother at 36, says his job “will be that of assisting Fabio 360 degrees as technical collaborator. I can coach the reserves, those who play a bit less during the season.”

He adds: “Chinese will be difficult to learn, we’ll settle for English.”

Paulinho admits Barca interest has turned his head

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He didn’t live up to expectations at Tottenham Hotspur, but Brazilian midfielder Paulinho may be good enough for Barcelona.

The 28-year-old currently plies his trade for Guangzhou Evergrande, where he has 11 goals in 23 matches this season, but Barcelona’s made an offer for his services.

[ USMNT-PANAMA: Player ratings | 3 things ]

His pal Neymar has publicly spoken of his desire to have Paulinho as a teammate, and the player admits that he’s become enamored of the idea since hearing about the Barca’s offer.

From AS:

“I’m not a hypocrite – I am a very open person and I do think about Barcelona. The buy-out clause in my contract is 40 million euros and I believe Barça offered 20 which Guangzhou rejected. My agent has told me that talks are set to continue. Most players don’t talk about these things until things start moving but I can confirm that the interest is real.

“All I know is that there is a formal offer and that Barcelona’s president has spoken to club directors but no agreement was reached. There is a chance that both clubs can come to an agreement. It’s possible that I could play for Barcelona with the best players in the world. I could be part of a club full of stars. Barça’s offer was bigger than we thought. There’ll be more conversations between the clubs. I hope an agreement can be reached.”

Imagine Tottenham facing Paulinho and Barcelona in a knockout round match during next season’s Champions League.

Report: Guangzhou Evergrande tops Real Madrid as most valuable club

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The Chinese Super League has definitely caught people’s attention, and rightfully so.

[ MORE: French soccer HQ raided in FIFA scandal ]

According to ZinhuaNet, Guangzhou Evergrande’s market value is set at roughly $3.5 billion, which is higher than Real Madrid ($3.26 billion) and Manchester United ($2.35 billion).

Guangzhou was first listed on China’s National Equities Exchange and Quotations (NEEQ) in November, but the club’s value has since risen significantly. On the market, the stock reportedly being sold at $8.50 per share and has sold 36,000 shares.

While Guangzhou is by no means in the same tier with clubs like Real and United in terms of revenue, the Chinese club is certainly doing something right.

After making a splash this winter by signing Atletico Madrid attacker Jackson Martinez, the Chinese Super League side is poised to make another run at the league title. The club have won five league crowns since 2010.

Additionally, former Brazil national team coach Luis Felipe Scolari is currently managing Guangzhou.

Follow @MattReedFutbol