Guangzhou Evergrande are reluctant to allow Barcelona target Paulinho to leave as it would be too expensive for the club to sign a replacement, according to boss Luiz Felipe Scolari.
A change to the Chinese Super League's transfer regulations will see clubs charged a 100 per cent levy on transfer fees over 45 million yuan (£5.2 million) for foreign players, with the additional fee being redirected into youth development.
The 28-year-old has already confirmed interest from the Catalan giants, with the Brazilian having a 40 million euros (£35 million) release clause in his contract.
But Paulinho is unsure if a move to the Nou Camp would be the right one, claiming recently that his family are happy in China, and Scolari has now spoken about another potential obstacle.
Quoted in Marca, Scolari told reporters: "His release clause is 40 million euros and none of the Chinese clubs will let their key players go because it would be difficult and expensive to find a replacement due to the new rules."