Celta Vigo forward Nolito has finally broken his silence over the collapse of his move to Barcelona in the January transfer window, following the Catalans' inability to meet his €18m (£14.2m, $19.8m) release clause. The Spain international hit out at the media for how they have treated him during the saga, with some reports even accusing him of faking an injury to force a move to the Nou Camp.
Barcelona earmarked the signing of the 29-year-old forward as a priority for the winter mercato after Luis Enrique openly admitted he needed someone to serve as a back-up for the trinity of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, having lost Pedro Rodriguez to Chelsea during the summer without signing a replacement due to a Fifa ban.
The manager did not hide the fact that Nolito was top of his shopping list – with Villarreal's Denis Suarez an alternative – after he previously coached the player both at Celta and in Barcelona's B-team.
Nolito, who was also linked with Arsenal, admitted he would relish a return to the current Champions League title holders should they make an offer for his services. Celta, meanwhile, insisted they would only part ways with the player if Barca met his €18m release in full.
But reports in the final days of the transfer window claimed Barcelona were close to securing Nolito, convincing Celta to let the player leave on loan with a compulsory clause forcing them to sign him on a permanent deal at the end of the season.
The truth was somewhat different, as Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu later confirmed, as Celta turned down any proposal and Barcelona remained hamstrung by their club's economic statutes.
Unluckily for Nolito, this speculation coincided with him being on the sidelines with an injury he suffered in December. Some reports at the time suggested he had delayed his recovery process to force a move through to Barcelona, while others claimed it was Celta who had frozen the player out as punishment.
Nolito has now revealed, in a tense press conference, the details of the situation, after returning to action in a recent win over Eibar.
"I have a contract with Celta Vigo. I've been annoyed that so many things that aren't true have been said," he fumed, as quoted by Sport. "People said that I'd injured myself on purpose, that I was simulating the injury, that Celta were punishing me... many things that aren't true."
"Even my mum called me and asked [about them]. I told her I was dedicated to playing football and to training.
Sport recently reported that Nolito will finally make the move to Barcelona in the summer.
But the player said: "If one day I leave Celta, you know that I will be the first to tell you. I'm not in control of anything."