Paulinho Reveals When Lionel Messi Persuaded Him to Join Barcelona

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Barcelona midfielder Paulinho has revealed that it was Lionel Messi who initially told him to join the club, during an international friendly between Argentina and Brazil.

The 29-year-old made the switch to Camp Nou in the summer - a move which came with a huge amount of scepticism. A disappointing time at Tottenham Hotspur was followed by a transfer to China, with many believing that would be the last we hear of the Brazilian.

However, since his arrival in Catalonia, Paulinho has been an instant hit for the club, and he's now revealed that it was five time Ballon d'Or winner Messi that planted the Blaugrana seed in the first place:

"It was in the friendly in Australia. I had a free-kick, me and Willian were standing over the ball," Paulinho told Globoesporte.

"I was over the ball just to stand there, Willian was going to take it. Messi was far away. When Willian took aim I stepped back, he came over and said, 'Let's go to Barcelona'.

"I heard him and said, 'If you want to take me there, I'm going.' I mean, he is the best in the world and you hear words like that, it makes you happy, it makes you feel confident.

"Whatever the circumstances, playing alongside the best in the world is something I can tell my kids about. At that point I almost fell flat on my face but I kept playing!" 

Another who played a strong role was compatriot Neymar - who incidentally moved to Paris Saint-Germain in the same window:

"He always used to say, 'You could come here, you're going to like it, you'll be happy. It's great here.' Of course he was always trying to make that true. It would be amazing for me to play with him at Barcelona, with all these great players."