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Paulinho's brilliant performance for Brazil will certainly give Barcelona fans some optimism

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After the sale of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain in a deal worth around £197m, Barcelona fans had some optimism that their club would spend big to replace the Brazilian.

At first, they were left very disappointed, with his countryman Paulinho the first man to arrive in the aftermath.

The 29-year-old endured a torrid spell with Tottenham and made the move to China with Guangzhou Evergrande.

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There, he rebuilt his career to such a level that he is now an automatic starter for the Brazilian national team.

He is yet to really feature for the Blaugrana as of yet, making a sporadic appearance in their last game, a 2-0 victory over Deportivo Alaves.

However, he is sure to have a big part to play in Ernersto Valverde's newly assembled squad, which now includes Ousmame Dembele.

Well, they can certainly take some heart from the midfielder's performance in the 2-0 victory over Ecuador, with Paulinho excelling for the Selecao once again.

PAULINHO ON FIRE

Brazil v Ecuador - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Qualifier

Within eight minutes of the first half, the South American was already lighting up the fixture, showing some excellent dribbling skills and narrowly missing out on scoring a brilliant goal.

Midfield runners like this is exactly what Barca need, particularly with Andres Iniesta ageing.

Then, late in the second half, it was Paulinho who popped up to finally break the deadlock against a stubborn Ecuadorian defence.

He showed composure in the box to rifle the ball into the roof of the net in a crowded penalty area.

PAULIHNO'S BREAKS THE DEADLOCK

Brazil v Ecuador - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Qualifier

Brazil would go onto seal a 2-0 victory with Philippe Coutinho - who is desperately wanted by Barcelona - scoring late on to kill off the game.

The Selecao have already sealed passage to the 2018 World Cup, claiming 36 points from 15 games and Barca fans will be praying that Paulinho can replicate his form at international level in Catalonia.

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