This article forms part of our Total Duds feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at how a player has fared since being signed or sold, using statistical figures and statements from pundits to prove how bad a deal the club got.
In the 2010s, there had been a smattering of Spanish strikers who came to the Premier League but had little joy in England. Iago Aspas managed just a solitary goal in 15 Liverpool appearances before being moved on. Roberto Soldado was a bit more successful with Tottenham, scoring 16 times in 76 games, but was still regarded by some as a major flop.
That was the fate which Nolito was hoping to avoid when he became Pep Guardiola’s third signing for Manchester City in the summer of 2016, after Ilkay Gundogan and Aaron Mooy. He arrived at the Etihad Stadium for £13.6m off the back of starting all four of Spain’s matches at Euro 2016 and netting 39 league goals in three seasons at Celta Vigo, so the precursors seemed promising. [via BBC]
Three goals in five days in the early weeks of his first season, one against Steaua Bucharest and two in a 21-minute substitute appearance at Stoke, hinted that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager may have pulled off a real coup. However, a late red card in a September 2016 win over Bournemouth would prove costly, as it interrupted the sequence of starts he had made and he subsequently found it difficult to regain his place in the first XI. [via TransferMarkt]
Nolito was in and out of the team for the first half of the season before the January 2017 arrival of Gabriel Jesus at the Etihad pushed him further down the pecking order. The Spaniard soon found himself much deprived of game-time, often failing to make it off the bench if he even made the bench at all.
In the second half of his first Premier League season, he played the meagre total of 37 minutes, 24 of which came in one match against Hull. He started only nine league games and the last of his six goals in all competitions came against Leicester near the midway point of the 2016/17 campaign. [via TransferMarkt]
Has Nolito been Pep Guardiola's worst signing at Manchester City?
Just over a year after arriving at Manchester City, Nolito was sold to Sevilla for £7.9m, with the Premier League club taking a 42% loss on a player who had managed only 776 minutes in England’s top flight. The striker admitted in summer 2017 that he and his family had struggled to adapt to the country, claiming to have had difficulty learning English and saying that his daughter’s face had changed colour from the colder climate compared to Spain (as per BBC).
While Jesus came from Brazil at the age of 19 and has gone on to score 63 goals in 139 games so far for Manchester City, Nolito’s move from Spain as a 29-year-old proved ill-fated as he couldn’t settle in England and failed to make an impression on Guardiola. Sadly for the Sevilla striker, he looks set to go down as one of the City manager’s more ill-advised purchases.
Man City fans, did you feel short-changed by Nolito’s contribution in his time at the club? Comment below with your views!
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