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Guangzhou slam 'baseless' coverage of Paulinho-Barcelona saga

Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao have threatened legal action against Mundo Deportivo over the Spanish newspaper's claims their midfielder Paulinho is prepared to go on strike to force through a move to Barcelona.

The 29-year-old Brazil international has been the subject of sustained interest from Barca over recent weeks, but Guangzhou remain steadfast in their refusal to sanction a move for Paulinho midway through the Chinese Super League season.

Mundo reported on Thursday that the player could seek to force Guangzhou's hand by refusing to play in Saturday's match against Shandong Luneng Taishan.

Additionally, the paper claimed on Friday that Guangzhou coach Luiz Felipe Scolari banished Paulinho due to a poor attitude during training.

It is the first of these claims that prompted the CSL side to approach Mundo with a letter from their legal representatives, accusing the newspaper of publishing "baseless stories" that "seriously defamed our club and Paulinho".

A club statement read: "We demand that the Mundo Deportivo stop publishing such baseless stories immediately. We demand a public apology from the Mundo Deportivo for those baseless stories and the serious repercussions that had followed," read a club statement.

"The Mundo Deportivo have not interviewed our club nor the player himself and their stories are a complete and utter fabrication. Such truthless and irresponsible journalism have seriously defamed our club and Paulinho, and deliberately misled our fans.

"Guangzhou Evergrande Football Club remain resolute in our transfer plan of Paulinho. We will never sell him mid-season."

Barcelona completed the signing of Benfica full-back Nelson Semedo on Thursday, their second signing ahead of Ernesto Valverde's first season at the helm following the decision to exercise a buyback clause held on Everton winger Gerard Deulofeu.