In case you were living under a rock, today Manchester City announced the signing of Nolito from Celta Vigo – with the Spaniard joining for a fee around £14m.
The 29-year old signed on the same day that Pep Guardiola officially started his reign as Manchester City manager and becomes City’s third signing of the summer, following on from the additions of Ilkay Gundogan and Aaron Mooy.
We wanted to get the complete lowdown on Nolito and what he will bring to City, so we quizzed Spanish Football expert Graham Hunter on City’s new man.
Twitter: #WelcomeNolito to #mcfc
https://t.co/1er12wGxpf https://t.co/9m7k2qnhrL (@ManCity)
It’s a ridiculously small price for a player of that talent. City and the Premier league clubs are swimming in disposable money and compared to the utterly ridiculous prices charged between clubs in England, because it’s a seller’s market, this represents great value. yes.
How important do you think the sway of Pep Guardiola was?
Delicate question. Of course the chance to play for Pep Guardiola is attractive to Nolito, he’s said so. So will the chance to emphasise that Pep was in the wrong not to play him more at the Camp Nou in the first place. But let’s be quite clear, Nolito will also be earning far more at City than at Barcelona and, as such, who wouldn’t make this choice when one’s family, career and security was a central concern?
At 29, do you still believe he will be of great use to Guardiola and City?
At 29? Why not? Do you think players are finished at 29? Do you think City buy players with a view to re-sale? Just to make ends meet? Come on.
Many City fans have been frustrated with Jesus Navas and his lack of cutting edge. How productive is Nolito?
Nolito and Navas share a nationality, but not much else. Nolito is tougher, differently skilled, far more prodigious in both goals and assists. He’s never possessed the blinding pace which Navas boasts and I guess people were less critical of Navas when City were winning things and he was useful. But don’t compare them because they come from the same country. That would be a mistake. Very, very different characters too.
He briefly played under Guardiola at Barca. Do you think some of the thinking behind bringing him in is to help other players adapt to Guardiola’s philosophy?
No. Not at all. Pep will be in charge of that – his players will either learn, adapt, obey and succeed or be moved on. In fact Nolito isn’t necessarily the prototype ‘Pep’ player. Pep’s need for his teams to adhere to positional play, to follow set rules about how to create space and take advantage of it isn’t necessarily something that stands out about Nolito. But he’s capable of re-adapting to what he knew at the Camp on, he’s the player who can unlock defences, he’ll give width and he’s a brilliant character, superb. Funny, confident, massively popular with fans, technically excellent. The kind of player who makes football worth watching.
Finally, do you think Guardiola will look for these type of players as opposed to big money additions?
Neither ‘these type of players’ not ‘big money additions’. That’s not what Guardiola’s like. He looks for players with the technique, brain, bravery, talent, team spirit, work ethic, discipline and attitude that will adapt to his ‘positional play’ system. Training sessions don’t just tax the physique but the brain. The type of player he’ll try to get Txiki Begiristain to sign will be technically excellent, hungry, intelligent, brave and keen to win, keen to learn.
Thanks to Graham for the insight. Follow him on twitter @BumperGraham