Paulinho names Barcelona superstar who convinced him to join
What's the story?
Barcelona's summer signing, Paulinho has revealed that Lionel Messi was the first to convince him to join Barcelona. In a wide-ranging interview with El Periodico, the Brazilian noted that even before official contact had been made, Messi had already sounded him out over a move.
Paulinho faced Messi when Brazil faced Argentina in June, and narrated the incident, saying "It's true. It was in the friendly that we played against Argentina in June. I was preparing to take a free-kick with Willian and another player I do not remember. Suddenly, I see Messi from behind, who is approaching me little by little and says: 'Are you going to Barcelona or not?' He told me right before I was about to take the foul."
"What did I tell him? 'If you want to take me, you can take me. I am going'. I was so nervous that I said to Willian, 'You're taking the free-kick!' After the game, I was able to exchange shirts with him. He did not let me shoot the free-kick, but I'm here."
In case you didn't know...
Paulinho left Brazil at the age of 18, making a surprising move to Lithuanian club FC Vilnius in 2006, before then moving on to Polish side LKS Lodz. The Brazilian returned to his native Brazil in 2008, with a journeyman career seeing him hop from club to club before ending up at Corinthians, where he first came to the spotlight. His performances under Tite ensured European offers from top clubs, resulting in Tottenham purchasing him for £17 million. A bad spell in the Premier League resulted in a cut-price £10 million move to Chinese Super League side, Guangzhou Evergrande.
The heart of the matter
Barcelona finally bought Paulinho for €40 million this summer, with plenty of criticism surrounding the move, leading to calls for Josep Bartomeu to step down as President. The Brazilian has managed to turn around opinion in a short time, with a last-minute winner and encouraging performances quickly turning him into a fan-favourite.
The revelation that Lionel Messi wanted the Brazilian at Barcelona also ought to turn the tide of public opinion in Paulinho's favour.
It's rather strange timing that after Paulinho's stellar start to the season, the revelation is made that Lionel Messi wanted him at the club. Josep Bartomeu copped plenty of criticism for the signing, but can no longer take credit for what was an important buy for Ernesto Valverde's side.