- Lionel Messi forced Paulinho to leave a free-kick during an international friendly
- The Argentine star asked his future team-mate if he was going to join Barcelona
- The interaction made Paulinho so nervous he gave the set piece duty to Willian
- Paulinho has impressed since moving to the Nou Camp under Ernesto Valverde
Lionel Messi forced future team-mate Paulinho to shy away from taking a free-kick during an international friendly after he asked if the Brazilian would be joining Barcelona in the future.
Just a month before Paulinho arrived at the Nou Camp, the Brazilian team squared off against Messi’s Argentina in a friendly match in Melbourne.
Brazil were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position and, spotting Paulinho preparing to take it, Messi used the ongoing transfer speculation to his advantage.
Lionel Messi forced Paulinho to shy away from a free-kick during an international friendly
‘I was preparing to take a free-kick with Willian and another player I do not remember,’ the Brazilian told El Periodico.
‘Suddenly, I see Messi from behind, who is approaching me little by little and he said: “Are you going to Barcelona or not?”.
‘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!”.’
Messi asked whether Paulinho was joining Barcelona, making the Brazilian extremely nervous
Paulinho has impressed since moving to the Nou Camp, making 41 appearances this season
Willian failed to convert the free-kick as Argentina went on to win the clash 1-0 with Gabriel Mercado scoring the winning goal.
Paulinho eventually sealed a €40million (£35m) move from China side Guangzhou Evergrande to the Nou Camp last summer.
He has since impressed for Ernesto Valverde’s side, delivering a number of impressive midfield displays and scoring eight goals in 41 appearances.