Bruno Guimaraes couldn't hold back the tears following Brazilian minnows Audax's relegation to the Sao Paulo State Championship second division in 2017. It was not the farewell he had anticipated after emerging as a breakout star that season.

Having caught the attention of scouts from all over the country, the defensive midfielder knew he would soon be on the move.

The hype around him had escalated to such a point that when he finally decided on a loan transfer to Athletico Paranaense, he saw other teams attempting to hijack the deal until the very last minute as he boarded a commercial flight to undergo his medical in April that year.

While taking his seat, Guimaraes found out that Athletico's fierce rivals, Coritiba, had somehow managed to place their sporting director by his side in the plane with a lucrative offer in hand. Among other things, it included a four-times-higher salary than what Athletico were offering.

As tempting as it was, the 22-year-old kept his word, joined Athletico and rejected Coritiba's overtures. 

Guimaraes has been reaping the fruits of that decision ever since.

Despite arriving as a relatively unknown teenager, Guimaraes quickly established himself as a key member of an Athletico side during one of the most glorious runs in the club's history.

In the past couple of seasons, the boy from Rio de Janeiro led the team to the Copa Sudamericana and Copa do Brasil titles, becoming a fan favourite and earning near-legendary status despite his tender years. 

It was no surprise, then, that Lyon sent a delegation to South America's pre-Olympic tournament in Colombia earlier this year to make sure he didn't slip from their hands. Lyon's proactive approach proved crucial in completing his signing for a reported fee of €20 million.

Guimaraes was on his way to France, and this time, there would be no commercial flight.

Instead, Guimaraes took a private jet straight from Colombia with his parents and entourage. There would be no other teams bothering him during the 10-hour trip, and even any fresh flirtations would have fallen on deaf ears.

The Brazil under-23s captain had already settled his future after getting a phone call from Juninho Pernambucano, Lyon's sporting director, and hearing the Lyon legend say that he would make Guimaraes "the best central midfielder in the world."

A host of clubs were interested in Guimaraes, but none of them showed the same desire as Lyon to go get him. 

Atletico Madrid had a first refusal clause, but despite a last-gasp bid, Guimaraes said they "never sent me a message or gave me a call to ask how I was doing." Chelsea, Arsenal and Benfica failed to lure him, too.

"Nothing in the world can beat a face-to-face and straightforward conversation," he tells Bleacher Report.

"It undoubtedly makes a difference. Since our first contact, Juninho was transparent with me and my family, explaining the club's project and what they had in mind for me in the future. This approach played a huge part in my decision to join Lyon. From the very beginning, I felt welcomed here."

One of the first things Guimaraes asked Juninho was whether he could wear the No. 39 shirt in his new home.

It's the same taxi number his father, Dick Gomez, drove for more than two decades in Rio, sometimes travelling 448 kilometers with his wife, Marcia Moura, to watch their son play for Audax in Osasco, an industrial suburb of Sao Paulo, during the weekends.

With squad numbers in Ligue 1 not going beyond 30, Juninho had to ask the French Football authorities for special permission, which was eventually granted.