Barcelona Transfer News: Latest on Nolito and Sofiane Feghouli Rumours

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2015

VALENCIA, SPAIN - MAY 17:  Nolito of Celta de Vigo runs with the ball during the La Liga match between Valencia CF and Celta de Vigo at Estadi de Mestalla on May 17, 2015 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Barcelona will add to their squad in the January window after the injury suffered by Rafinha against Roma this week, with Celta Vigo’s Nolito and Valencia winger Sofiane Feghouli reportedly targeted.

Despite being able to register Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal to play in 2016, according to Xavi Canals of Sport, the Blaugrana have had their plans changed by the injury to the Brazil international, who seems set to miss the majority of the 2015-16 season with a torn right anterior cruciate ligament.

Canals explains the thought process behind Barcelona feeling as though they need to add to their current options:

The unfortunate injury to Rafinha has aggravated the situation and means continuing without adding another player would make life very difficult. Luis Enrique will insist the club adds someone to replace Rafinha in January.


Two of the top options on Luis Enrique and the technical secretary's list are Nolito and Feghouli. The former is a specific request from the Asturian but it has been complicated by his contract renewal. Feghouli, meanwhile, has a contract that expires in June 2016 with Valencia, so he could be extremely affordable in January.

ROME, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 16:  Rafinha of FC Barcelona  after clashes with Radja Nainggolan of AS Roma during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between AS Roma and FC Barcelona, at Olimpico Stadium on September 16, 2015 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Gius
Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

Nolito is a player who knows what Barcelona is all about as a former player. The Celta man left the Camp Nou in search of first-team football, and during his time with Benfica and his current employers, he has blossomed into an extremely effective wide player.

Here’s a closer look at the kind of qualities the 28-year-old would add to this Barcelona side:

Nolito has been superb on the left side for Celta. The Spanish international would be an ideal replacement for a player like Pedro—who moved on to Chelsea in the summer transfer window—with his intricate dribbling, excellent work rate and nose for goals.

As we can see here courtesy of WhoScored.com, Nolito has started this season in excellent form, too:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

GRAPHIC: Top 10 players in Europe’s top 5 leagues this season http://t.co/OaBtK7Gw0n

Feghouli is a player that’d also represent an intriguing acquisition for the Blaugrana. The Algeria international is another wide man, but he’s also capable of coming inside and playing off the front. Feghouli is typically stationed on the right for Valencia, though, providing skill, incision and plenty of industry in that segment of the Los Che team.

GIJON, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 12: Sofiane Feghouli of Valencia CF reacts during the La Liga match between Sporting Gijon and Valencia CF at Estadio El Molinon on September 12, 2015 in Gijon, Spain.  (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

As a 25-year-old, Feghouli definitely would be the wiser choice with longevity in mind. In addition, with the player’s contract due to expire next summer, he could be available for a cut-price amount, too. According to Super Deporte (h/t Football Espana) there are “considerable differences” between the player’s demands and what Valencia are willing to offer.

Here’s a look back at how Feghouli and Nolito compared in a variety of key statistical categories in La Liga last season:

Winger Comparison: Nolito, Feghouli
Apps (Sub)32 (4)20 (13)
Shots per game2.91
Key passes per game2.70.8
Dribbles per game2.11
WhoScored.com (2014-15 season)

The challenge for both of these players, while undoubtedly talented, would be breaking into a team that contains so many world-class players. After all, in addition to Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi, Barcelona will have Turan joining the squad in 2016, a player who will also be vying to get into the XI.

Barcelona's new player Turkish Arda Turan gestures during his official presentation at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, after signing his new contract with the Catalan club, on July 10, 2015. Barcelona will keep more than 60 million euros ($65 million)
LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

As we can see here courtesy of Squawka Football, Turan is another determined footballer who would be tough to dislodge from the team once he’d got in:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Arda Turan won 20 tackles in the final third over the last two seasons; Victor Sanchez was the only La Liga player to win more (24).

At this juncture, Feghouli seems the most likely of the two. Not only is he younger and, as such, has a better chance of making a long-term impression at the Camp Nou, but the Algerian’s contract situation would make it much easier to finalise a deal. By contrast, Nolito is in the peak years of his career and needs to be playing every week.

Barcelona’s squad is going to be under major duress between now and January, meaning any players who do come in mid-season will be tasked with making a huge impression. Both Feghouli and Nolito are capable of sparking this team into life in the short-term, but in the grand scheme of things, they would be back-up options to the club’s stellar attacking triumvirate.


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