Paulinho has revealed how an in-game conversation with Lionel Messi helped pave the way for his surprise move to Barcelona.
The former Tottenham midfielder signed for the Catalan club in August, completing a €40 million deal to depart Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao.
However, Messi had laid the groundwork back in June, when the team-mates went head-to-head in an international friendly between Brazil and Argentina.
Despite the rivalry between the countries, Barca’s talismanic forward seized on an opportunity to ask his opponent about the possibility of them playing together in Spain.
“I was getting ready to take a free-kick in a game between Brazil and Argentina,” Paulinho told El Periodico.
“Suddenly, I saw Messi behind me getting closer bit by bit, and he says ‘are we going to Barcelona or not?’ I said, ‘if you want to take me there, you can. I’ll go’.
“I was so nervous I told Willian, ‘you take the free-kick’.
“After that match, I exchanged shirts with Messi. He didn’t let me take the free-kick, but I’m here.”