Manchester City's summer signing Nolito has confirmed that Barcelona were interested in bringing him back to the Nou Camp, but he instead opted to move to the Etihad Stadium and reunite with Pep Guardiola. The Spain international has admitted he didn't have to think twice about his move to England, thanks to a conversation with City midfielder David Silva.
The 29-year-old forward joined Barcelona's B-team in 2008, with Guardiola rewarding him with a senior debut in the 2010-11 season. However, with the likes of Pedro and Lionel Messi preventing him from making a permanent breakthrough into the first-team ranks, he opted for a career away from Catalonia. Following spells at Benfica and Granada, he became one of the stars of the 2015-16 La Liga campaign with Celta Vigo, netting 12 times and earning himself a place in the Spain squad for the European Championship.
Current Barcelona boss Luis Enrique tracked the player during the January transfer window, having previously coached him both during their times at Barca's B-team and with Celta Vigo.
Club officials were unable to fulfil their manager's wishes, however, as Barcelona's economic statutes would not allow them to meet his €18m (£15m, $19.8m) release clause. Reports in Spain suggested Barca were primed to make another attempt to sign Nolito during the current transfer indow, but the player opted to join Manchester City instead.
"I wish Barcelona all the best. I am very proud of Barcelona's interest, but now I am here and I think I made the best decision to come here," the Citizens new boy said to The Guardian.
The Spaniard had previously claimed he was pining for a move back to the Nou Camp. However, he now states that the chance to work with Guardiola again was one of the keys to his Premier League switch.
"The truth is I enjoyed working with him [Guardiola] in Barcelona even though it wasn't much [in terms of] time. It's a reason for me to come here, but not the only one," he said. "But it was also about City, they have a great team, it's a great project, they got to the semi-finals of the Champions League last season and the truth is I will try to help this club achieve great things.
"I thought it was the best decision for me and my career. I have come to the Premier League to play with City and under Pep Guardiola, who will play me in the first team, and I am very happy with the decision I took.
"I spoke with David [Silva]. He spoke well about City and I had a consultation with my family and my agent and it took me just two days to make the decision. I have had the luck to play with Messi a bit but what I want in life is to enjoy my football, play football and be happy. I took the decision. I was fortunate to play in Barcelona, although not much in the first team, and now I am excited about playing at City and I will try to do great things here."