Paulinho fluffs his lines and fails to fire at the cash register on his Barcelona unveiling following Guangzhou Evergrande switch
The €40-million man endures a lukewarm welcome on his first day at the Camp Nou
Erstwhile Guangzhou Evergrande midfielder Paulinho underwhelmed at his high-profile unveiling as a Barcelona player at the Nou Camp as he struggled to juggle a ball in front of the gathered media and failed to fire at the cash register.
The Brazilian international signed a four-year deal with the Catalans following a €40-million (HK$367.1 million) switch earlier this week, and was presented to media – and a modest number of fans – on Thursday by under-fire Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
The 29-year-old, who struck 14 times and registered four assists during his time with Evergrande, underwhelmed during his unveiling, fluffing his lines during a photo opportunity before the club later revealed they had sold no Paulinho jerseys following the presentation.
Employees at the official club shop told goal.com that they had failed to sell a single jersey bearing Paulinho’s name, while a video purported to show none of his number 15 jerseys on display.
During the media conference Paulinho said his time with the Chinese Super League club helped him to regain confidence in his ability.
“I had a very good first season at Tottenham [Hotspur] and then in the second I lacked continuity, so it was difficult and maybe my time there wasn’t what I wanted,” said the Brazilian. “But I waited and in Guangzhou I took my chances.”
After two years at Tottenham, Paulinho joined Guangzhou ahead of the 2016 season. While in China he won two Chinese Super League titles, two Super Cup crowns and one FA Cup, as well as one AFC Champions League trophy.
He also appeared to confirm reports that he had agreed to a pay cut in order to secure a move to La Liga.
“Economically, there are plenty of places I can go to make money, but I am more concerned about my career,” said Paulinho.
The lukewarm welcome from Barcelona fans could have been a measure of the current strength of feeling against club president Bartomeu with sections of supporters demanding the he resigns from his post following his failure to land any of their top summer targets after conceding defeat in the battle to keep star forward Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain’s advances.
Watch: Paulinho struggles to juggle a ball at his unveiling
— Ralf (@RalfCrutzen) August 17, 2017
Barcelona are cash rich after recouping the stated release fee of €222 million for the forward, but have so far failed to replace him.
Summer-long pursuits of Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele are yet to bear fruit despite the club’s insistence on Wednesday that those deals were ‘close’ to being completed.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp told reporters on Thursday he had no idea how the Barcelona spokesman had reached that conclusion given there had been no change in the Premier League club’s stance that their prized asset was not for sale at any price.
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceEcho) August 17, 2017
Barcelona begin their Primera Liga campaign on Sunday at home to Real Betis.
Real Madrid are odds-on bookies’ favourites to land a second successive La Liga title this season.