The Brazilian midfielder, who featured in the goalless draw against England at Wembley last night, was touted while on international duty.
After swapping Tottenham for Chinese Super League outfit Guangzhou in 2015, it looked like his career may have been coming to a premature end.
But his impressive performances earned him consistent call-ups for his country, and it was during one of those games against Argentina that he was asked to move to Barcelona.
“It was in the friendly in Australia,” Paulinho told Globoesporte.
“I had a free-kick, me and (Chelsea midfielder) Willian were standing over the ball.
“I was over the ball just to stand there, Willian was going to take it.
“Messi was far away. When Willian took aim I stepped back, he came over and said, ‘Let’s go to Barcelona’.
“I heard him and said, ‘If you want to take me there, I’m going.’ I mean, he is the best in the world and you hear words like that, it makes you happy, it makes you feel confident.
“Whatever the circumstances, playing alongside the best in the world is something I can tell my kids about.
“At that point I almost fell flat on my face but I kept playing!”
Paulinho made the £36million move in August and has not looked back since.
He has been a mainstay in the Barcelona midfield as they opened up a four-point gap at the top of La Liga.