Former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paulinho has revealed that he hopes to complete a transfer to Barcelona next week.
In a wide-ranging interview with Sunday’s edition of Mundo Deportivo, Paulinho admitted his surprise at receiving an offer from Barca but insisted he had what it took to succeed for the Blaugrana.
“After the game between Brazil and Argentina in Australia, my agent told me that there was interest from Barca and it surprised me,” began the Brazil international.
“But I wanted to have an offer before I began dreaming. After the two friendlies, Guangzhou received an official bid and they made me an offer that I really liked.
“My reaction to Barca’s interest? I felt like I was floating in a cloud, thinking about whether it could be true or not.
“And when I got the offer, it was like waking up suddenly and it made me very happy.
“I’m a little surprised that Guangzhou haven’t responded to Barca yet and it came out in the Press here that they rejected the offer.
“I haven’t talked to my President yet because we’re travelling to Beijing for a match, but I hope that if Barca come along, Guangzhou are flexible and can close the deal.
“It’s a unique opportunity for me, to be able to play for Barca, the best team in the world, and be surrounded by the best players in the world.
“I still have to talk to my President. I haven’t stopped thinking about Barca’s offer, and I’m hoping to resolve everything this week.
“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.
“Did I imagine a club like Barca making me an offer? The truth is that I couldn’t have imagined it.
“When I came to China in 2015, I only had it in my head to be able to play. Now I’m 29 years old and I didn’t expect it.
“They’re the best team I’ve ever seen, with great players, great fans, a beautiful stadium and a spectacular city.
“When I came here in 2015, people said that Chinese football wasn’t good, but I came and won five trophies, I’ve recovered my best form and I returned to the Brazil team, where I’m scoring and assisting…
“It’s clear that the Chinese League isn’t like the Spanish, English or Italian, but I’m doing a great job here and this year I’m feeling very well. In 25 games, I’ve scored important goals for Guangzhou.
“If Barca are interested in a player who is playing in China, it’s because they’re good and can play there.
“I’m in a wonderful run of form, having scored 11 goals in 25 games, four with the national team.
“I have confidence in myself and my potential, I’m aware of my ability and this is the most important thing.
“I have to show myself off and the people there will see how I play and they’ll be able to judge me.
“I’m aware that I have to improve every day and give my best in every game.
“I’'s a unique opportunity for me and if I have to take a pay cut in order to join Barca, it wouldn’t be a problem for me.
“In my career, I’ve always played as a ‘second’ midfielder. I like to get into the box to score goals and help the team in attack.
“Now I’m better, defensively I’ve grown a lot and I’m a player with strength and quality.
“Any reference players? It’s difficult because all players are different from each other.
“I have my characteristics, I’m a very strong player, that thanks to my physical ability, I can play for 90 minutes with great intensity.
“Barca has many world-class points of reference such as Iniesta, Messi, Suarez, Neymar, Pique, Busquets…
“They’re players in a different League, who have a distinct football education and are examples to the world.
“In 2011, when I was at Corinthians, I received an offer from Russia that offered me 10 times more than what I was earning in Brazil and I replied, ‘what I can do with five, I can do with two.’
“Money has never come first for me. A player can make money with any team he plays for.
“The important thing for me is that I’m happy with the decision I make. China’s a financial giant now, but money isn’t a priority for me.
“Therefore, if Barca offer me less than Guangzhou, it’s not a problem because I appreciate the chance of being able to play in a great team in Europe, surrounded by great players, and also dream of being able to win the Champions League. It’s something that I can achieve with Barca.”
The 28-year-old scored 10 goals in 67 appearances for Spurs between 2013 and 2015, before being sold to Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande, where he has won five trophies and regained his place in the Brazilian national team.