Barcelona remain determined to sign Celta Vigo star Nolito before the end of the January transfer window, and their final loan offer reportedly includes a clause that will see them pay Celta a fine if they don't sign the player permanently in the summer.
Meanwhile, Sky Sports' Guillem Balague has played down rumours the club may be interested in bringing Fernando Torres to Catalonia.
Sport's Lluis Mascaro reported the complicated proposed deal for Nolito, designed to ensure the bill of the transfer is pushed to next season, as the Blaugrana don't have the funds to bring the player back to the club:
The Catalans are going to keep trying until the last minute to sign Nolito, someone coach Luis Enrique has demanded. But the club will not spend a cent, not accept an obligation to buy, which would be considered a bill for this season. They will only accept an option to buy after July 1, if it is convenient for the Blaugrana.
In the intense negotiations between the sides, Barcelona are willing to accept a clause that punishes them if they don't then go on to sign Nolito. A fine that could be paid in cash - or in players. FC Barcelona know Celta must make a leap of faith to give them Nolito until the end of the season, knowing at worst, they will gain nothing.
Celta Vigo remain adamant Nolito will not leave the club for anything less than his €18 million release clause, a stance recently reiterated by Celta director of football Miguel Torrecilla, per Marca's Antonio Estevez.
The veteran winger has already scored eight goals and had five assists in 15 La Liga starts, per WhoScored.com. He would be the ideal capture to boost Barcelona's chances of winning the La Liga title.
As a former player, he already understands the culture and philosophy of the Catalans, and he has previously worked under manager Luis Enrique, who seems determined to be reunited with the 29-year-old.
Here's a look at some of his highlights:
The deal to bring Nolito to the Camp Nou has been controversial from the start, and with rumours of a possible loan deal now swirling, fans and pundits alike are only questioning the proposed move even more.
Celta Vigo are enjoying a fantastic season in La Liga and are very much alive in the race for a UEFA Champions League ticket, in large part thanks to Nolito's performances. Selling the veteran now would effectively end the Galicians' bid to qualify for the Champions League, but loaning him to the Blaugrana would be madness.
Andrew Gaffney of Yahoo Sport UK and Karl Matchett of Bleacher Report UK recently debated the move:
Karl Matchett @karlmatchett
@GaffneyVLC @AthleticClubUK Celta effectively calling halt on top-six challenge. Augusto and Nolito gone, forget it.2016-1-13 23:18:11
The situation is complicated by Barcelona's current financial state, which doesn't allow the club to spend the money required to sign Nolito outright. As explained by Goal.com's Ben Hayward, Barcelona don't have the resources to buy another player or renew Neymar's contract, as any additional expenses on players would result in a breach of financial fair play regulations.
With Munir el Haddadi suddenly finding his best form, Barcelona's need to add another forward may not seem as pressing as it did a month ago, and as Celta are determined not to sell Nolito on the cheap, this transfer seems destined to be completed in the summer, not January.
The Blaugrana will continue to push for a move, however, so expect this saga to go down to the wire.
Sky Sports' Balague believes Atletico Madrid ace Torres will not be an alternative option for the club, as he's far more likely to move to the Estadio Vicente Calderon on a permanent basis before Atleti's transfer ban kicks in.
The veteran forward will be a free agent at the end of the season and is not expected to return to AC Milan, who loaned him to Atletico in January of last year. As reported by football writer Pete O'Rourke, he has a multitude of offers heading into the summer, and he could be a valuable addition for any club in need of some experience.
But as an ageing striker who hasn't been particularly productive in the last few years, he never seemed like a strong fit with Barcelona, and the Catalans are unlikely to make a move for the former Liverpool man.