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Paulinho leaves Guangzhou

Guangzhou: Former Brazil international midfielder Paulinho, who helped Guangzhou Evergrande to the AFC Champions League title in 2015, has terminated his contract by mutual consent with the Chinese Super League club due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The 32-year-old former Tottenham Hotspur and Barcelona player had two years remaining on his deal with the club – now known as Guangzhou FC after a name change at the end of last year – but had not featured in the current Chinese Super League campaign due to restrictions in place as a result of the pandemic.

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“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, Paulinho has been unable to join up with the club and fulfil the contract,” the eight-time Chinese Super League winners said in a statement. “After a friendly consultation, the club and the player decided to terminate the contract.”

Paulinho joined Guangzhou from Tottenham in the summer of 2015 and had an instant impact, helping Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side win the AFC Champions League later that year with victory over Al Ahli from the United Arab Emirates in the final.

He would go on to also win two Chinese Super League titles before moving to Barcelona for a season ahead of a return to Guangzhou. In 2019 he was again influential as Guangzhou won the league title, with Paulinho named the Most Valuable Player that season.

"Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have to say goodbye to Guangzhou FC,” Paulinho said in a post on social media. “I feel very sad, but I am expecting that one day I will come back to see all of you.

"I want you to know that you are always in my heart. Thank you Guangzhou! Thank you China!"

Paulinho’s departure from Guangzhou comes after compatriot Anderson Talisca left the club last month to join Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr on a three-year contract.

Beginning on Thursday, Guangzhou will compete in the 2021 edition of the AFC Champions League in Thailand where they have been drawn in Group J alongside Kitchee from Hong Kong, Thailand’s Port FC and Cerezo Osaka of Japan.

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