You’ll be hard pushed to find a single Barcelona fan who was pleased when the club paid £36 million for Paulinho in the summer.
The Brazilian midfielder was a flop at Tottenham Hotspur and had spent three years playing for Guangzhou Evergrande in the Chinese Super League, a decision that will put a stain on any player’s reputation.
But one month on from his stunning move to the Camp Nou, Paulinho is, believe it or not, beginning to earn himself some new supporters.
The 29-year-old midfielder has surprised everyone by slotting in seamlessly in a squad role at Barcelona.
Paulinho has played 90 minutes but once, and has featured for less than 20 minutes in five of the seven matches he’s played, but he’s made the most of his limited role, scoring twice and providing an assist as Ernesto Valverde’s side shot to the top of the La Liga table.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu was accused of signing the Brazil international to suit his own business interests but that was before Paulinho’s impressive performances.
Paulinho arrived in August but it was in June when the midfielder first considered the move.
But it wasn’t after he was contacted by Barcelona, but by Lionel Messi.
Messi approached Paulinho during the match
Paulinho played against Messi during an international friendly between Brazil and Argentina and the midfielder has admitted in an interview with El Periodico that the five-time Ballon d’Or winner sounded him out over a move - as he prepared to take a free-kick.
"It's true. It was in the friendly that we played against Argentina in June,” Paulinho said.
“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 free-kick.”
Messi left Paulinho nervous
The incident left Paulinho so nervous that he told Chelsea’s Willian to take the free-kick.
"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."
When Messi comes calling, you just don’t say no.
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