7 Players Who Could Follow Paulinho From China to Europe in the Next Transfer Window

Paulinho's improbable €40m move from Guangzhou Evergrande to Barcelona this summer saw just about every football fan on the planet pay homage to the late Roger Moore with a skeptically raised eyebrow. However, the former Spurs midfielder - who was expected to see out the remainder of his career in the far east after an underwhelming spell in London - has bedded in well at Barça and has scored twice in five as his new club set the pace at the top of La Liga. As it stands the Brazilian is one of...

Wu Lei (Shanghai SIPG)

Age: 25

Position: Forward

Labelled by teammate Oscar as China's best player, Wu Lei has even been called his country's Maradona.

The forward, who can also play as a winger, holds the record for being the youngest person to have played in a professional Chinese football match at the age of just 14. However, unlike many heaped with expectation at such a young age, Wu has so far lived up to some of the hype.

He has been the top-scoring Chinese player in the Chinese Super League since 2013 - and has already hit a personal best this season of 17 and counting.

While he still chases his first Super League title with boyhood club Shanghai SIPG, a move in the future to Europe could catapult him further into superstardom in his home country and would undoubtedly be beneficial from a cynical marketing perspective for prospective buyers.

Roger Martínez (Jiangsu Suning)

Age: 23

Position: Forward

Despite spending big on the likes of former Chelsea man Ramires and one-time Liverpool target Alex Teixeira, Jiangsu Suning are not having a great season at all.

The club sit poised above the relegation places with five games to go and have won just four times all season. However, young forward Roger Martinez's late season form has been something of a positive for fans.

The Cartagena-born forward impressed initially after arriving from Racing Club midway through the 2016 campaign, scoring 10 in 12. This year the target man has bagged six in his last eight to help his side stay above the drop.

After going straight from South America to China, Martinez has yet to experience European football, but was linked with a move to Serie A Internazionale last year.

Ricardo Goulart (Guangzhou Evergrande)

Age: 26

Position: Attacking Midfielder

Ricardo Goulart, once described as the biggest mercenary in Brazil, might just be the best Brazilian of the lot in China.

The former Cruzeiro star, who was a record-breaking signing for the Super League in 2015 has been the standout performer in China in recent years - registering 20 goals for table-topping Guangzhou this season.

It's a career-best for Ricardo, who has netted 19 in each of his last two campaigns, as well as picking up team and individual trinkets including: two Super League titles, the AFC Champions League, the Chinese FA Cup and two Footballer of the Year awards.

While overlooked by the Brazil national team (apart from a solitary appearance in 2014), his age and obvious quality in the final third could make him a very attractive target for European scouts.

Fernandinho (Chongqing Lifan)

Age: 24

Position: Forward

No, not that one. This Fernandinho is younger and more attack-minded than his Manchester-based namesake.

The 24-year-old Chonqing Lifan star has adapted well to the Chinese Super League since making his move from Estoril Praia permanent in 2015.

The Brazilian has been the middle table side's standout performer this season, scoring and assisting with regularity from either a central attacking or right-sided role.

In a league of ageing foreign stars, Fernandinho's youth makes him a precious commodity. While the former Flamengo youngster enjoyed a particularly purple patch this summer - netting four in the month of July - there was little paper talk of a move. 

However, after a mixed experience earlier in his career in Portugal, he may feel he has a point to prove in Europe sooner rather than later.

Axel Witsel (Tianjin Quanjian)

Age: 28

Position: Midfielder

Somewhat remarkably Axel Witsel has never played in any of Europe's 'big five' leagues.

The midfielder is in the prime of his career and boasts over 80 caps for Belgium. The former Benfica and Zenit St Petersburg star recently showed his class at international level with a fine bicycle kick against (ahem) Gibraltar in World Cup qualification. 

Similar to Renato, his drive and leadership from the engine room would benefit several across Europe, while Witsel himself may want a crack at one of the best leagues in the world. However, matching his €16m-a-year wages might prove a stumbling block for any would-be suitors. 

Christian Bassogog (Henan Jianye)

Age: 21

Position: Forward

The Cameroon striker has had a remarkable and unorthodox journey to his current location in the Chinese Super League at the age of 21. 

After beginning his career with FC Rainbow in his home country, he moved to the USA after being scouted by fourth-tier side Wilmington Hammerheads. A move to Denmark followed with AaB, before a tournament-winning campaign at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2017 (during which he was named player of the competition) catapulted him to greater attention and a £5m switch to Henan Jianye.

The forward has scored seven and assisted as many in 21 appearances this season, contributing to exactly 50% of his side's total league goals.

Renato Augusto (Beijing Guoan)

Age: 29

Position: Midfielder

Contrary to initial speculation, Renato Augusto's move to Beijing in 2016 from Corinthians hasn't hindered his chances of international selection at all, with the former Bayer Leverkusen star earning the majority of his 23 Brazil caps since his move to the Chinese Super League.

With solid performances for club and country over the last 18 months, Renato is a near shoo-in for Tite's World Cup squad next summer.

While the man himself appears to be happy in China - he was recently quoted heaping praise on both the league and country and even admitted to coaxing compatriots Hulk and Oscar into joining him. However, he might just be on the radar of a few European clubs on the look out for an experienced, deep-lying midfield operator.

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes