Paulinho departs Guangzhou due to pandemic restrictions

Paulinho has left eight-time Chinese Super League winner Guangzhou FC; the club says the contract has been terminated due to complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Paulinho has not been able to play for Guangzhou this season.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Paulinho has left eight-time Chinese Super League winner Guangzhou FC after the ex-Barcelona midfielder's contract was terminated by mutual consent. Guangzhou said on Sunday Paulinho's relationship with the club had been ended two years early due to complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions, Paulinho has been unable to join up with the club and fulfill the contract," the club said in a statement.

"After a friendly consultation, the club and the player decided to terminate the contract."

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The former Brazil international enjoyed two spells at the club in southern China, helping Luiz Felipe Scolari's side win the Asian Champions League in 2015 while also claiming CSL titles in 2015 and 2016. He then left to join Barcelona for a season before returning to China in 2018, leading the club to a further CSL crown in 2019 and winning the league's Most Valuable Player award.

The 32-year-old has not been able to play for Guangzhou this season and becomes the second Brazilian to leave the club due to issues relating to the pandemic after Anderson Talisca signed for Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr last month.

"Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have to say goodbye to Guangzhou FC," Paulinho was quoted as saying by China's official Xinhua news agency.

"I feel very sad, but I am expecting that one day I will come back to see all of you."

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