Guangzhou Evergrande’s Paraguayan striker Lucas Barrios has failed to return to the club following international duty, with speculation as to an impending departure growing by the day.
Having travelled to Asuncion for a World Cup qualification fixture with Chile on 8 June, 28-year-old Barrios was expected to report back to Guangzhou on the 11th as the club get ready for the resumption of the Super League season.
As of yet, though, the striker has failed to appear in the country, having reportedly visited Italy to discuss his future with clubs in the Italian Serie A.
Among others linked to the Paraguayan are Brazilian side São Paulo. However, with Evergrande having parted with €8.5 million to secure his services just last summer, he will not be allowed to leave at a great loss.
The incident is just the latest in a series of problems the club has faced with Barrios since his arrival, with the former Borussia Dortmund striker having failed to settle in the Far East.
Club general manager Liu Yongzhuo told reporters on Friday: “The club has always had great respect for the players and fulfilled our contractual obligations.
“We also hope that the players are brave enough to face up to competition within the side and do not just give up. I have warned the players agent: do not try to challenge the club.”
The strong words come amid speculation that Barrios has taken his case to FIFA, with a view to rescinding his €6.7 million per year contract.
However, with Guangzhou having never missed a payment on his wages, it is unlikely that he will be allowed to walk away from his current deal, which runs until December 2015.