Celta Vigo star Hugo Mallo has admitted it will be difficult for the La Liga side to retain Nolito during the January transfer window should the Spain international continue his impressive form. Mallo is convinced Nolito is happy at his current club but with both Barcelona and Arsenal reportedly interested in securing his services, he is not sure his teammate will stay.
Reports in Spain in recent days have claimed both Luis Enrique and Arsene Wenger are keeping a close eye on the 28-year-old forward after he scored five goals in the first seven games of the La Liga season. Celta Vigo sporting director Miguel Torrecilla recently admitted Nolito could leave the club if any suitors met his release clause, currently £13.5m ($20.5m), although that is expected to increase to £18.5m with a new deal.
AS reports the Gunners are in pole position to secure his services because Barcelona need to sell some players to fund a move.
Earlier in October, Nolito admitted he was aware of the rumours linking him with a move away but was trying to focus in the present.
Asked about Arsenal's interest, he responded: "Well, you see everyone is asking for me, but I'm still here at Celta... As I have already said I try to stay out of [rumours] because it is not good to distract myself with those things."
But now Mallo has admitted his fears over Nolito's potential move in January as despite being happy at Celta, in football "you never know what will happen".
"I'm not in a position to comment on this and will keep my opinion to myself. I don't think Nolito will pay too much attention to these reports. If he continues at this level it will be difficult to retain him. But also [Fabian] Orellana or Iago [Aspas]. They're playing very well. This attracted the interest from other clubs. But they are happy here and our hopes is that they are willing to stay with us," he said as quoted by newspaper El Faro de Vigo.
"The team is calm. We know what Nolito thinks, that he wants to be here, he's happy here. That's pretty important and his family is happy here. In football you never know what will happen. Maybe nothing happen or maybe he leaves. We can not say anything either for good or bad. Just that he is happy here and that he, right now, would be likely to stay here for many years."