Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has confirmed the Catalans have been forced to give up in their attempts to sign Celta Vigo attacker Nolito due to the club's debt regulations. The La Liga giants' chief, however, refused to completely close the door on the possibility of a late addition being made to the squad before the transfer window closes on 11pm 1 February.
The Champions League winners have been linked with the Spain international since the departure of Pedro Rodriguez to Chelsea during the summer transfer window. Luis Enrique has openly admitted he wants someone to serve as a back-up for the trinity of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar and had identified Nolito as the perfect fit, having previously coached him both at Celta and in Barcelona's B-team.
However, Celta have long insisted that the only way the player will leave during the current window is if a team meet his full €18m (£13.7m, $19.6m) release clause.
Recent reports claimed that Barcelona had tried to circumnavigate this by making an offer to get the player's services on loan with a compulsory clause to sign him at the end of the season, which was also turned down.
Barcelona cannot pay the fee at this moment in time due to the club's economic statutes, which state that any board that allows Ebitda (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortisation) multiplied by two to exceed the club's overall debt, must stand down.
Bartomeu has now confirmed this news.
"In these past few days there has been so much talk about a player," he said to Spanish reporters, as quoted by AS. "But the club obviously can't make a deal. We have a limitation on our debt, and with that we can't do anything about it."
Luis Enrique, however, suggested last week that he still has hope of getting someone in before the end of the transfer window.
Asked about whether someone other than Nolito could join Barcelona before the transfer window closes, he said: "You never know."