Who is Ilaix Moriba? Things to know about Barcelona’s latest wonder
Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy hasn’t been too successful in recent years, but things seem to be changing.
Blaugrana are keen to restore the importance of their youth setup and have taken another step in that direction by offering 18-year-old midfielder Ilaix Moriba a senior start in his Copa del Rey win over Cornella.
Moriba has been a regular part of the first team in recent weeks and will likely continue to rack up minutes here and there, so it’s time to get to know the exciting midfielder.
When he turned 16 in January 2019, Moriba looked to sign his first professional contract, and there was no shortage of offers for a player who scouts said was one of the best in his age group.
Juventus, Chelsea and Manchester City were three of the best teams linked to the teenager, and there was a time when Moriba felt like he wanted to leave Camp Nou, so Barcelona had to go big with their offer.
They made him an offer worth around £ 1.7million a year and, unsurprisingly, Moriba couldn’t say no.
Barcelona almost missed Moriba’s signing due to an incredible administration mistake.
Instead of sending their contract offer to Moriba, Barcelona actually sent the paperwork to the player’s childhood side, Espanyol. According to ESPN, they couldn’t believe the kind of money on offer, joking that Moriba was set to bring home more senior Espanyol players.
Fortunately, Espanyol were kind enough to warn Barcelona about their mistake, which allowed them to make contact with Moriba in the end.
While most La Masia graduates would prefer to go their way, Moriba prefers to introduce himself.
The Guinea-born midfielder’s first thought is to run against defenders, and it’s not uncommon to see them bounce off his 6’0 frame as he pushes his way to goal.
However, that doesn’t mean he can’t pass the ball. Moriba has an impressive vision and has clearly listened to Barcelona coaches. His game isn’t as technical as his teammates, but he doesn’t need to be.
As is the case with all tall but technical midfielders, Moriba has long been compared to Manchester United’s Paul Pogba.
“He’s physically very strong, but he’s also a very smart player,” former coach Denis Silva Puig told Bleacher Report. “Most people don’t like it. Here he’s called ‘Barca’s Pogba’ because he’s like a young Pogba, but also he’s very, very smart – and that’s his great potential. He’s a top player, without a doubt.
“He’s a bit, maybe modern – in the sense of English football. It’s good to have him at Barca. The academy cannot be limited to Riqui. [Puig]s or the Monchus – little players with a lot of talent. Football trends change every year, every month, but Ilaix is not here because he is big or strong, but because he is very good at all facets of the game. “
August 18, 2018. The day Moriba exploded into the spotlight.
Previously, Moriba was a closely guarded secret at Camp Nou, but when he landed a hat-trick in a 5-0 win over Real Madrid, the world started to take notice.
He scored a header and a long-range howler, but the best of the field was a straight-from-kick-off goal, and he’s been laughing at defenders ever since.
Although Moriba enjoys comparisons to Pogba, he credits Barca icons Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta as the men who inspired him as a child.
He told Mundo Deportivo: “Everyone says I’m like Pogba. I like it, of course I like it, but Busquets and Iniesta are the ones who made me want to become a midfielder. Everything I learned I learned from them. “
Since joining the Football Manager database in 2019, Ilaix Moriba has gained a bit of a cult following by following the game.
Barcelona know what they have with the teenager and are willing to charge you a huge fee to disembark him, but whatever they charge you it ends up being a steal.
Moriba has the potential to become one of the best midfielders in the world, and with the hysteria around him only growing, expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future.
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