Messi asked me to join Barcelona in June – Paulinho
Paulinho has revealed how an in-game conversation withÂ Lionel Messi helped pave the way for his surprise move to Barcelona.
The former Tottenham midfielderÂ signed for the Catalan club in August, completingÂ aÂ â‚¬40million deal to depart Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao.
However, Messi hadÂ laid the groundwork back in June, whenÂ theÂ team-matesÂ went head-to-head in an international friendly between Brazil and Argentina.
Despite the rivalry between the countries, Barca's talismanic forward seized on anÂ opportunity to ask his opponent about the possibility of them playing together inÂ Spain.
"I was getting ready to take a free-kick in a game between Brazil and Argentina," PaulinhoÂ toldÂ 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, â€˜if you want to bring 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."