Southampton forward Juanmi has revealed he has been in contact with Malaga regarding a potential return to the La Liga side during the January transfer window – but he wants to remain with the Saints.
The Spanish striker is struggling to secure regular time under Ronald Koeman since his summer arrival at the club but is determined to turn around the situation in the second part of the campaign to "make a name" at the St Mary's Stadium.
The 22-year-old forward moved to the Saints last summer after catching the attention of the Dutch boss during a remarkable last campaign in La Liga, netting eight goals while earning a first call-up with Spain national team in a game against Netherlands after Chelsea star Diego Costa pulled out due to injury. Saints didn't hesitate to meet his £5.1m ($7.6m) release clause at Malaga to lure him to the Premier League.
But the Spaniard has struggled to make the impact expected in the English football. He is yet to start a single game in the Premier League, his only seven appearances coming as a substitute. He has also played in the League Cup and the Europa League.
Juanmi has now revealed that Malaga are trying to take advantage of the situation to lure him back to La Liga for the second part of the campaign – as the club are desperately looking for reinforcement to avoid relegation. They are just above the bottom three with 14 points from 15 games.
Asked whether he would consider a return to Malaga during an interview with Cadena Ser, he said: "No, no. I'm focused on my club, trying to adapt as quickly as possible to get more minutes and play games. Right now I don't think that. I have been here just five months and I am happy. I am sure that the minutes will arrive with the hard work."
But questioned if there have been any contact from Malaga, he said "Yes, there have been contacts but I think now is time to complete my adaptation to Southampton and make my name in this league. Today I don't consider anything else."
The Spaniard signed a four-year-deal in the summer and says that he is not ready to give up yet to the Premier League dream, hoping to overcome the initial struggles to prove to Koeman he deserves more playing time in the second part of the season.
"Little by little I'm better here, with the language, the style of playing... I'm happy with my adaptation and soon I hope that in the second part of the season the minutes arrived," he said.
"When you come to a country with a different culture and a new language the adaptation is complicated. The coach (Koeman) is the first to understand that because he played in Spain. But I'm happy. I would like to have more minutes but I am sure that they will come with the time. I am calm. "