Barcelona chief Pep Segura has refused to confirm the signing of Paulinho despite Guangzhou Evergrande having already admitted that the Brazilian midfielder is set to move to the Nou Camp. The manager was also coy on the double pursuit of Liverpool ace Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund winger Ousmane Dembele.
Reports over the weekend revealed that Barcelona were set to trigger the €40m (£36.3m, $47.3m) release clause of the former Tottenham midfielder in order to make him Ernesto Valverde's fourth signing of the summer – following the previous additions of Nelson Semedo, Gerard Deulofeu and Brazilian youngster Marlon Santos.
Guangzhou manager Luiz Felipe Scolari later confirmed the news, with the Chinese outfits having previously rejected two different offers worth around €25m to part ways with the midfielder.
"Paulinho is a player with high individual quality, he is an outstanding player, both for his club and for the national team," Scolari explained. "The high price paid by Barcelona in order to sign him is a strong recognition of Guangzhou Evergrande Football Club. We wish him all the best and that he can embrace a bright future."
Reports in Spain are claiming that the deal is all but done and the player will thus be presented as a new Barcelona player on Thursday (17 August), a day after the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup against Real Madrid.
However, asked by Spanish TV about the expected arrival of Paulinho in the preview of Barcelona's 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid on Sunday, Segura said: "There are several options on the table and once the players arrive to our club, we will talk about it. Let's speak about it when there is something concrete. There are several players demanded by the managers and we are working on it."
Barcelona are also trying to complete the signings of Coutinho from Liverpool and Dembele from Dortmund in order to fill the gap left by Neymar's departure to Paris Saint-Germain.
The Brazilian midfielder handed in the transfer request to force his Liverpool exit last week after the Merseysiders rejected an offer worth around €100m to cash in on his services. Meanwhile, Barcelona have also had a bid rejected worth €80m plus €30m in add-ons to sign the Dortmund winger.
Both players have reportedly agreed personal terms to join Barcelona but asked about an update on the double pursuit, Segura said: "We cannot say anything because it is a poor favor to the players and a lack of respect to their clubs. When we can, we'll talk clear about the new signings."
The Barcelona chief gave similar responses while speaking to the Spanish media following the defeat to Real Madrid, assuring that the disappointing result won't change the transfer plans of the club.
"It would be very bad for one result to alter our sports planning, we prepare it judiciously and our signings will be consummated as the days pass," Segura insisted.
"Barcelona had a good first half, but Gerard Pique's goal and error was decisive and until then there had been two even teams. The game then changed and Madrid scored two goals."
Pressed again about the expected signing of Paulinho, he added: "When something is done with a player, we will communicate it."