The Barcelona circus continues.
Preparations for the new season are underway, and it seems as though young midfielder Ilaix Moriba isn’t part of them. His contract is winding down and he is yet to agree on an extension, and until he does, he has been banned from pre-season training and is facing the prospect of being sold.
Right then. Where do we start with this one?
Moriba was a revelation last season, breaking through into Ronald Koeman’s first team in March and remaining a regular part of the squad until the end of the season. With some excellent performances in midfield, he showed exactly why many rate him as one of the game’s most exciting young players.
Let’s stress this. Moriba isn’t just heralded as a possible future star. A lot of scouts have earmarked him as someone with the potential to dominate world football in the coming years. The overwhelming belief is that Moriba is on track to do bits.
And yet, Barcelona can’t tie him down.
Now, in Barcelona’s defence, it’s not as if they haven’t tried to keep the 18-year-old. They know just how good he is and have been trying to tie him down to a new deal for a while now, but none of their offers have hit the mark.
Moriba wants more than what Barcelona have put on the table, and the fact that the Spanish side aren’t tripping over themselves to offer that is astounding.
We all know about Barcelona’s financial woes. They are looking to terminate contracts and ship out fringe players in a desperate attempt to free up some money, and while it’s feasible that La Blaugrana physically cannot offer Moriba what he wants, that seems highly unlikely.
After all, news of Moriba’s banishment came on the same day as it was revealed Barcelona have paid €500,000 to sign Austrian starlet Yusuf Demir on loan for their reserve team, negotiating themselves a €10m option to buy the 18-year-old as well. They’re obviously not paying all the money now, but the cash is clearly there to play with if needed.
Maybe don’t splash out on players for your reserve team right now? Maybe don’t sign Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay while you’ve still got loads of forwards on the books? Maybe don’t bring in players when you know you need to ask them to take a pay cut literally weeks after promising them more money?
Barcelona can cry about the mistakes of former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who single-handedly crippled the club with some unfathomably poor decisions, but let’s not pretend like his replacement, Joan Laporta, is going about fixing things the right way.
They’ve thrown money at players despite knowing they can’t actually live up to their promises, and they have prioritised big names over young players like Moriba. It’s the exact same as it was 12 months ago, only without the £100m transfer fees. Baby steps, I guess.
Amid all the chaos, Barcelona are skimping out on one of the top prospects to come out of La Masia in years. They’ve left themselves unable to offer Moriba what he wants, but even if they can improve their offer, what’s to say Moriba won’t turn them down anyway?
Barcelona were trying to put Georginio Wijnaldum in front of Moriba in the pecking order and are now acting confused as to why the teenager doesn’t want to stay. If Barcelona won’t commit to him, why would he be foolish enough to put pen to paper?
Their loss will be another team’s gain. Manchester United and Chelsea are regularly linked with Moriba, but if he genuinely hits the market, expect every side in Europe to reach out with a lucrative contract. This is the kind of player who doesn’t come around too often.
Barcelona have made a whole load of mistakes in the last few years, and losing Moriba could well be the most devastating result of that. They’re in ruin in the short term, but the future is getting darker with each passing day.
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