Guangzhou Evergrande chairman Xu Jiayin says Barcelona target Paulinho will remain with the Chinese Super League club until the end of the season.
Evergrande remain in the hunt for trophies on three fronts and sit at the top of the league one point clear of Shanghai SIPG.
And Jiayin says his club must retain the 28-year-old in order to continue their title challenge.
“Regarding Paulinho, there is nothing to discuss until the end of the season,” said Xu. “We completely understand his feelings, however, we hope he can understand the club’s situation. We can’t just let a core player go in the middle of a tough season.
“Now we are halfway through the season and, although we need to consider our financial situation, we also need to take the team’s situation into account.
“It is indeed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Paulinho and there has been lots of attention on it. However, in midseason it is impossible. We can’t let things like this happen.”
Paulinho himself has said he is open to a move to Spain, but he has received compliments from Jiayin as to how he has handled the situation.
“Although Barcelona have offered a fee, Paulinho has been training professionally and playing very well,” said Xu.
“This is what we call professionalism and I hope every Evergrande player can learn from him.”