Paulinho admitted that Neymar played a huge role in his decision to move to Barcelona – his teammate from the national team recommended him the Spanish club despite himself leaving for PSG the same summer.
Paulinho decided to come back to Europe after two years in China where he played for Guangzhou Evergrande – and his second attempt to prove himself in one of the Europe’s best leagues has been much more successful than the first one, at least so far. The Brazilian used to play for Tottenham and he failed to make a positive impact there so the expectations weren’t high before his arrival to Barca.
The former Palmeiras player spoke about Neymar’s recommendation as he said, according to ESPN: “When the talks with Barca were going on, Neymar told me to come here and said that I would be happy here and I would like it. He expressed encouragement so that my signing would be completed. He really helped me to come here and even though he ended up leaving, he told me that I would be happy at Barca.”
He added that it was Leo Messi who tried to persuade him to come to Barca during the friendly match between Argentina and Brazil: “Willian and I were getting into position to take a free kick. I was closer to the ball but it was Willian that was going to take it. Messi was further away. When Willian got into position to kick the ball I stayed behind and he [Messi] came walking towards me and said, “Come to Barcelona.” I looked at him and said, “If you want to take me, I’ll go.”
Paulinho also spoke about Messi as the best player in the world: “I consider myself privileged to play alongside the best in the world. Of course, [Real Madrid’s] Cristiano [Ronaldo] has his own merits, having won the Best [FIFA Men’s Player] award, he is a great player and is of the highest level. But I feel very happy to play alongside the best in the world, that is Messi. I’m privileged.”