Celta Vigo winger and rumoured Arsenal target Nolito has confessed he turned down the opportunity to join the Premier League's ranks during the January transfer window. Plus, it's emerged the Gunners are engaged in a duel to recruit Valencia attacker Sofiane Feghouli.
Nolito told Radio Marca of the rampant interest in his signature over the course of the winter transfer period before outlining that he was perfectly content to remain in his current setting (h/t Metro's Mark Brus): "In December I had offers from England, China, Russia, Dubai. But I’m happy at Celta and I want to play at the Euros. The Celta president told me that he wouldn’t sell me. I said to him that’s just fine by me."
Arsenal were frequently reported as the foremost Premier League club when it came to January interest in the player, and one would assume they were among the aforementioned English outfits bidding for his loyalties.
It shows a strong resolve on Nolito's part that a place in Vicente del Bosque's Spain squad for Euro 2016 is a higher priority than the fame and fortune he could have chased had he chosen to move elsewhere.
Celta Vigo have provided the forward with his first opportunity at consistent playing time in Spain's top flight, and the ex-Barcelona B man has netted nine goals in 19 Primera Division appearances this season.
The Gunners may yet decide to revive their interest in Nolito this summer, perhaps after Euro 2016, and Kieran Canning of Agence France-Presse noted his momentum hasn't been dented by recent injury:
Kieran Canning @KieranCanning
Nolito looks like he's never been away despite just returning from 3 months out.He & Carvajal making their case to be in Spain squad next wk2016-3-5 15:20:22
Nolito's comments also clarify that some of the world's biggest-spending forces are also hunting the Spaniard, with China, Russia and Dubai all among the most financially capable leagues around.
Arsenal may have to fight off competition from Nolito's former club, though, after Spanish daily Sport recently reported on the revived links attaching the 29-year-old with a move back to Barca, the side he left in 2011:
SPORT English @Sport_EN
Here we go again: FINALLY... Nolito will arrive in the summer https://t.co/IHKoj1XPR52016-2-20 00:19:32
Another wide target for the Gunners is Valencia star Feghouli, who will become a free agent at the end of this season when his contract at the Mestalla expires.
Claudio Colla of Italian outlet Transfermarketweb reported Wenger's side will have to battle the likes of Juventus and Manchester United to land the playmaker. Meanwhile, BBC Sport's Oluwashina Okeleji added that Barca may also look to keep the Algerian in La Liga:
Oluwashina Okeleji @oluwashina
Barcelona are still keeping close tabs on Sofiane Feghouli ahead making a possible move for the Algerian this summer, says Sportmediaset.2016-2-28 22:18:41
Colla's report mentioned that Valencia are in talks with the player to extend his stay there, but Arsenal may well make the moves necessary to recruit one who could be a terrifically valuable signing on a free transfer.
Feghouli is reportedly asking for a net annual salary of €6 million, which equates to roughly £90,000 per week after tax, and the lack of a transfer fee means Arsenal may be able to justify offsetting that expense.