Brazil's midfielder Paulinho waves as he leaves his team's hotel in Kazan on July 7, 2018, a day after the five-time champions crashed out of the Russia 2018 World Cup football tournament after a 2-1 quarter-final defeat to Belgium. Image Credit: AFP

Shanghai: Brazil’s Paulinho swaps the World Cup and Barcelona for the Chinese Super League this week as he returns on loan to rescue Guangzhou Evergrande’s flagging bid for an eighth straight title.

The powerful midfielder, last seen in action in the World Cup quarter-finals, received a rapturous welcome from Evergrande fans as he made his surprise return after lifting the Spanish title with Barcelona.

Paulinho, 29, spent two years with Evergrande before going to Barcelona last season and Fabio Cannavaro’s team are in dire need of his dynamism, lying fifth as the CSL resumes on Tuesday following its mid-season break.

Some of the foreigners in the Chinese Super League are reportedly among the world’s best-paid players but Paulinho said he chose to return to because standards were “gradually improving.”

“After training with Evergrande and Barcelona and the experience of playing for Brazil’s national team in the World Cup… I hope to bring more championships to the Guangzhou team and its fans as well as more excitement to the CSL,” he said in an Evergrande statement.

Paulinho isn’t the only World Cup player to arrive in China’s summer transfer window, which closed on Friday, with Morocco striker Ayoub Al Kaabi and Serbian centre-back Dusko Tosic heading to Hebei China Fortune and Guangzhou R&F.

Paulinho will also be joined by fellow Brazilian Anderson Talisca, on loan from Benfica, as Evergrande bid to reel in league-leaders Shanghai SIPG, starting with Tuesday’s game against Guizhou Zhicheng.