Barcelona and Brazil midfielder Paulinho has revealed why he left Tottenham for China back in 2015, saying he became stressed at not playing in London and needed a route out.
Leaving Tottenham Hotspur to play in China seemed like an odd decision for someone entering the prime of their career. But in an eye-opening interview with the Players' Tribune, he has explained the reasons behind his decisions.
He joined Tottenham in 2013 for a then club-record fee of £17m and played a key role during that first season.
However, he failed to secure a starting position during his second campaign with the club and eventually a lack of playing time caught up to him.
Paulinho said: "It is true that it was a very difficult period for me as a player, and there were times when I did not want to leave my apartment in London because I was so stressed about not playing.
"For a footballer, not playing is like a fish not being in the water. I felt as though I were suffocating."
This all came to a head when Paulinho was left out of the squad to face Chelsea in the League Cup final in 2015, despite having played in all the previous rounds.
And after the game, he spoke to Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, expressing his desire to leave, although he has since insisted that he has never had any ill-feelings towards Pochettino.
Having spoken to Pochettino, Paulinho went to Daniel Levy to request a move which is when the offer from Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande came in.
When Paulinho heard about the offer, he said: "I have to play. Doesn't matter where. I want to leave."
And with hindsight, the move to China did wonders for his career.
Getting continued playing time at Guangzhou Evergrande resulted in a transfer to Barcelona in 2017 and a starting place in the Brazil side for this year's World Cup, which he has grabbed with both hands, scoring a decisive goal against Serbia in the group stages.