Luis Enrique
Luis Enrique has previously said signing a striker in January is a priority for BarcelonaGetty Images

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique still hopes to make a new signing before the transfer window shuts despite a move for Celta Vigo striker Nolito appearing to have broken down. Reports in Spain said Celta had refused to sanction a loan deal for the 29-year-old midway through the season and insisted on Barcelona paying the forward's release clause of €18m (£13.7m).

However, the Catalan giants cannot afford to spend big money in January due to La Liga spending restrictions. Speaking after Barcelona beat Athletic Bilbao to move into the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, Enrique refused to rule out new signings before the transfer window closes on 31 January.

"I do not talk publicly concerning other professionals," the Barcelona head coach was quoted as saying by FourFourTwo. "The transfer window will be opened until Monday, so we will wait for a Christmas present.

"I don't know if I was a good boy but my goal is to keep winning matches."

'Very demanding'

Enrique confirmed earlier this month that bringing in a forward during the January transfer window was a priority for the club, with Nolito and Villarreal forward Denis Suarez the two closest-linked with a move to the Catalan capital.

Nolito has five international caps for Spain and previously played under Enrique at Barcelona B and Celta Vigo.

Nolito
Nolito, 29, has scored eight goals in 15 league appearances for Celta Vigo this seasonGetty Images

Arsenal have also been linked with a move for Nolito, with Catalan daily Sport claiming that Barcelona's failure to land the striker had reignited the Premier League side's interest in the player.

Meanwhile, Enrique praised his team's performance against Athletic in what he described as a "very demanding" game. Goals from Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique and Neymar gave the Catalan giants a 3-1 victory in the second leg at the Nou Camp on 27 January – and a 5-2 triumph overall.

"Since the draw we knew that Athletic would make our lives difficult. They ask a lot of you and in the first half they have stopped us playing our game," he told the club's official website. "We put in an excellent second half, spurred on by the crowd and we found answers when the game was at its most difficult."