Ernesto Valverde has confirmed that Barcelona youngster Sergi Samper is expected to leave the Nou Camp on loan this summer following the arrival of Paulinho from Guangzhou Evergrande.
Samper, 22, joined Barcelona at the age of six and has progressed through the youth ranks of the Catalan side as one of the next big things to emerge from the prolific La Masia academy.
Arsene Wenger tried to lure him to Arsenal in the summer of 2011 after the Gunners boss convinced both Jon Toral and Hector Bellerin to make the move from the Barcelona academy to the Emirates Stadium.
Samper, however, decided to continue at the Nou Camp and earned his first-team debut in the 2014-15 campaign under former manager Luis Enrique.
Barcelona handed him a new deal until 2019 last summer before sending him on loan to Granada to continue his development. But the Spain-Under 21 international failed to make the impact expected at the Andalucian side, starting only 13 La Liga games last season as his side was relegated to the second tier of Spanish football.
Samper returned to Barcelona earlier this summer with hopes Valverde would give him a chance to serve as a back-up for Sergio Busquets during the 2017-2018 season.
The Spaniard impressed during pre-season but Valverde has now confirmed that the academy graduate doesn't feature in his plans right now after earlier this week Barcelona bolstered their midfield with the arrival of Paulinho in a €40m (£36.3m, $47.3m) deal.
"I talked with Samper three or four days ago," Valverde said in a press conference ahead of the Spanish Super Cup second leg against Real Madrid on Wednesday. "He has returned from a complicated loan spell [at Granada] where he didn't play as much as both him and the club wanted. Here he is going to have less minutes and I spoke with him [over a new loan move] with the idea that he could keep progressing and be an important player in the future."
Many in Spain have questioned Paulinho's big money move to Barcelona after the 29-year-old's last spell in Europe, a disappointing stint playing for Tottenham Hotspur. However, Valverde believes that his versatility will give Barcelona a boost ahead of the new campaign.
"He is an important player in the Brazil national team, he is a strong player who can help us. We didn't have a player with his profile in our squad," Valverde said.