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Are Barcelona really serious about Paulinho?

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I still can't get my head around this one

Brazil v Argentina - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Qualifier Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Barcelona wanting to sign Paulinho is the shock rumor of the summer, yet it seems like it’s not even a rumor anymore, it seems like it could quite feasibly happen.

Although we all scoffed when we first heard it, the Brazilian has happily admitted that he does indeed have an offer from the Blaugrana.

“There's been contact with my agent. There's an offer [from Barca], it's true, and the two parties are talking," he said.

"I'm really proud that a great club like Barcelona are interested in my situation -- there is no price for that."

Source | Globoesporte

And then suddenly it all got very real and instead of picturing Marco Verratti in our midfield, next season, we all had horror images of ‘Tottenham flop’ Paulinho instead.

Even Luiz Felipe Scolari’s comments suggest that Barca’s interest is real, as he played down talk of a move.

“His release clause costs €40 million and none of the Chinese clubs will let their key players go now because it would be difficult and expensive to find a replacement due to the new rules," he said.

So what is going on? Why on earth are Barcelona seemingly keen on a player who is about to turn 29, flopped spectacularly in the Premier League and is plying his trade in the Chinese Super League.

Yes he’s a central midfielder, and yes Barcelona need a central midfielder, but there’s no hiding the fact that Paulinho is arguably one of Tottenham’s worst ever signings.

Andre Villas-Boas brought him in for £17m but he was sold to Guangzhou Evergrande two years later for £9.9m.

In his final season for Spurs he made only a handful of appearances, and those came on the back of the World Cup when he was a member of Scolari’s side that suffered that 7-1 hammering against Germany.

He has described his last few months at White Hart Lane as “the worst of his career” and when he left most supporters were relieved. In fact some were shocked at the size of the transfer fee Spurs received for him – although they made almost a £7m loss, the sense was that here was another Chinese club overspending once again.

Tottenham Hotspur v Hull City - Premier League Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Most players head to China and their careers are effectively believed to be over, and despite the star names that have been acquired recently, if Paulinho were to move to Barcelona, he would become the first player to buck this trend.

So what are Barcelona seeing that we are not? He’s won the league twice since moving to China and his team are currently four points clear, but huge doubts remain over the quality of the league.

There's also the small matter of cost, he reportedly has a £35m release clause, so it’s not like he will come cheap either.

Paulinho's form has also been enough to see him handed a recall to the Brazil side under Tite, where he helped the team become the first side to qualify for World Cup 2018, starting seven of eight qualifiers.

He’s also been back in the goals since his recall, grabbing a hat-trick against Uruguay in March, his first goal a cracker from fully 30 yards.

But is that really enough to tempt Barca?