The Brazilian midfielder was signed from Guangzhou Evergrande for €40 million - played a crucial role in Barca's Liga and Copa del Rey double, scoring nine goals and playing 49 games... then immediately returned to Guangzhou Evergrande after just one season.
Presumably with the thanks and well wishes of everyone at Barcelona, as Paulinho has been unexpectedly glorious for the entire campaign.
:shirt: 49- Goal (@goal) April 19, 2020
Was Paulinho underrated at Barcelona? pic.twitter.com/okZumEbQbw
Only Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez scored more La Liga goals for Barcelona than Paulinho that season, as the Catalan club came incredibly close to an undefeated league season (only losing their penultimate game, 5-4 to Levante, when the title was already won).
At first, it looked an incredibly unusual signing. Paulinho had been a flop at Tottenham and was sold to Guangzhou for a cut-price €14 million in 2015.
So Barcelona spending €40 million on the Brazilian after three years in the Chinese Super League seemed highly unusual - especially given the strength of Barca's midfield options.
But while Paulinho was a bit-part player to begin with, he soon forced his way into the starting XI and scored several crucial goals throughout the season.
His highlight package for the season shows him linking up particularly impressively with Messi and Andres Iniesta - and displaying some silky South American skills that were never quite seen at Spurs.
In fact, Barca's one big setback for the season - the shock, 3-0 defeat to Roma in the Champions League that put them out if the competition in the quarter-finals - came in a game Paulinho was not involved in. Perhaps he should have been.
I keep thinking about how Paulinho went to Barcelona, played a season with prime era Leo Messi, played a huge role in a league and cup double, and then bounced. One of the greatest cameos in modern football.- Musa Okwonga (@Okwonga) March 25, 2021
The surprising nature of his success was then compounded by an equally surprising exit. Paulinho was loaned - then quickly sold - right back to Guangzhou Evergrande for slightly more than he was purchased for (a reported €42 million).
Perhaps Barcelona were just raising funds for more glamorous transfers.
But there can't be many players like Paulinho at Barca in 2017/18 who signed, strutted his stuff with success, then immediately left after 12 months. Well played, sir.
All imagery: PA Images
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