Paulinho to Barcelona 'out of the question' mid-season for Guangzhou

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Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao have praised Paulinho's professionalism after again ruling out an immediate move to Barcelona for the Brazil midfielder.

Barca had a reported EUR20million offer rejected for the 28-year-old, who has expressed his desire to play for the LaLiga giants and a willingness to take a pay cut.

Guangzhou maintain they will not allow Paulinho to depart at what is the midway point of the Chinese Super League season, despite the player calling upon the club to be "flexible".

Evergrande Group chairman Xu Jiayin identified the prospect of playing for Barcelona as a "once in a lifetime opportunity" for Paulinho but is not ready to sanction a move at this stage.

"We need to not only consider the financial account of the corporation, but also the specific situation of our current campaign," said Xu in his annual mid-season meeting with Guangzhou's players.

"Paulinho has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we attach great importance to this matter. But we won't let him leave mid-season.

"The club have just reached the halfway point of the season, it is out of the question that we let go such a key player.

"I understand the feelings of Paulinho but hopefully he will understand the club. Despite receiving the offer from Barcelona, he still plays each game to the best of his ability.

"I call on every player to learn from Paulinho's professionalism."

Paulinho has won two Chinese Super League titles and the AFC Champions League since joining Guangzhou from Tottenham in 2015, with his form earning a recall to the Brazil national team.