Belfast Telegraph

Nolito happy to turn down his former side Barcelona and reunite with Guardiola at the Etihad

By Mark Ogden

Manchester City forward Nolito has revealed he rejected a summer move to Barcelona in order to be reunited with Pep Guardiola in the Premier League.

Nolito, 29, is set to make his City debut against Manchester United in Beijing today after linking up with Guardiola's squad following his £13.8m transfer from Celta Vigo.

The Spain international, who can play as a forward or winger, began his senior career under Guardiola by making two appearances for Barca during the City manager's spell in charge at the Nou Camp.

But despite being offered the chance to return to the Spanish champions this summer, Nolito insists that he had no hesitation in turning down the chance to play with Lionel Messi after being offered the opportunity of moving to City.

"I wish Barcelona all the best and I am very proud of Barcelona's interest, but now I am with City and I think I made the best decision," Nolito said.

"I have had the luck to play with Messi a bit previously, but what I want in life is to enjoy my football, play football and be happy.

"I was fortunate enough 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.

"It (the choice of City or Barcelona) was something I spoke about a lot with my family and my management.

"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."

The lure of Guardiola, who arrived at City this summer following three years in charge of Bayern Munich, was, according to Nolito, the crucial element behind his decision.

"I enjoyed working with him in Barcelona even though it wasn't for long," Nolito said.

"It's a reason for me to come here, but not the only one.

"It was also about City, they have a great team and it's a great project."

Despite arriving in England at 29, just three months short of his 30th birthday, Nolito insists that he is capable of making an immediate impact in the Premier League.

And he has no qualms over whether he plays as a forward or on the wing.

He added: "There are two positions I can play.

"I am comfortable in either position and I will play in either of them and adapt to what the manager wants.

"I am in the best form and shape of my career and had a good season last year. Why can't we win the league? Let's see what happens."

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