According to reports in Spain this evening, Manchester City have swooped and beaten Barcelona to the signing of Spanish international Nolito.
The 29 year old Celta Vigo forward has been in good form for Vicente del Bosque’s side at the European Championships – scoring in last Friday’s emphatic 3-0 win against Turkey – and has been tipped to leave Balaídos this summer.
Barcelona have had a long-standing interest in re-signing the player – who made two appearances for the club in 2010/11 season – and were frustrated in their efforts in bringing him back to the Camp Nou last January.
However, it looks like they have had the rug swept from under them by their former manager Pep Guardiola.
A report in Spanish publication Marca today (originating from television station TV3) has claimed that Manchester City have agreed a fee of €18m (i.e. the release clause) with Celta for Nolito, and that he will sign a three year deal with the Premier League side, with the option of a fourth.
Sky Sports’ La Liga pundit Guillem Balague has also reported the Manchester City bid, and has backed up the theory that that Barcelona’s hesitancy to conclude the deal looks set to cost them the chance to sign him.
Manchester City has made an offer for Nolito. He’s thinking about it as FCB still debating if it’s a good idea to sign him
— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) June 21, 2016
Why Barça are so hesitant to sign the player now when the opportunity to do so would be markedly easier than it was in January is unclear. Perhaps his age has now become an issue, and where in January he could have been used as a short term measure, the summer is normally a chance to plan long term transfers that bit better.
Atlético and Arsenal were also credited as having an interest in the player at one time or another, but as of now it would appear that, barring a persuasive later offer from Barcelona, Nolito will return from France with the national side and then reunite with his former boss Guardiola at Manchester City.