Arsenal have inched ahead of Barcelona in the race to secure the services of Celta Vigo goalscoring sensation Nolito, with reports in Spain suggestion the Catalan giants are out of cash for immediate purchases. AS reports that manager Luis Enrique wants to buy the 28-year-old to fill the gap left by the departure of Pedro to Chelsea, but the club will need to sell players first or else forget about his arrival.
The Spain international has been heavily linked with both the Gunner and the reigning Champions League winners, after scoring five goals in the first seven matches of the La Liga season.
Enrique has been open in his admiration of Nolito, having coached him both at Celta and in the Barcelona B team. The Mirror, meanwhile, has suggested Arsene Wenger could well be preparing to launch a bid for the Spaniard to bolster his attack, after failing to sign a forward during the summer.
Celta Vigo sporting director Miguel Torrecilla recently admitted Nolito could leave the club if any suitors meet his release clause. The Spaniard is currently available for just £13.3m (20.4m), but it is believed the club are in negotiations over a new deal, which would increase the buy-out clause to £18.5m.
Both AS and Mundo Deportivo report that Barcelona will be unable to make this signing though unless more players leave the Nou Camp. This is not due to Financial Fair Play legislation, but rather the club's own regulations regarding its debt.
AS said: "[Enrique] still has his eye firmly set on Celta's Spain international midfielder Nolito, whose release clause stands at €18m, although Celta are planning to increase it to €25m. Both amounts are prohibitive for the Camp Nou outfit, who cannot afford to risk exceeding their budget.
"The club's own statutes state that any board that allows Ebitda [Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortisation] multiplied by two to exceed the club's overall debt, must stand down. With just 13 days until the next club general assembly, that ratio is dangerously close."
The reports suggest that Adriano and Douglas are expected to be put on the market to raise funds, but if the club do not manager to sell either Arsenal would appear to have an uninterrupted path to Nolito's signature.