Failed City move for Barca starlet revealed by player’s father

James Holland
Ilaix Moriba Man City

The failed Man City move for Barcelona wonderkid Ilaix Moriba has been revealed by the player’s father.

The midfielder was closely linked with a switch to the Etihad in January 2019 after contract talks stalled with Barca.

The player eventually opted to remain with the Spanish giants and has since broken into the first team.

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Moriba’s father Mamady has publicly spoken about the failed transfer for the first time.

He told Spanish source Dario Sport (via ESPN): “With Barca, negotiations were not advancing. We met [Man City sporting director] Txiki Begiristain and he explained the project to us.

“We liked it because they were betting big on Ilaix. A few weeks later we had our tickets to Manchester to go and sign the contract.

“I cancelled it that same morning we were supposed to go there. I wanted Ilaix to be a reference point for the upcoming Barca generations. His friends had gone. If he stayed it was proof that Barcelona bet on young players. And we reached a deal where everyone won.”

The comments reveal just how close Man City were to signing one of Barca’s best young stars.

Moriba has featured six times for Barca in all competitions this campaign.

He scored his first La Liga goal in a 2-0 victory over Osasuna earlier this month.

The player also came on as a substitute in their recent Champions League draw with PSG, which saw them go out in the round of 16.

Manager Ronald Koeman is a big fan of Moriba and sees him as a future star.

The 19-year-old tends to operate as a central midfielder but can also play in defensive midfield or further forward.

He is just one of several young stars on the books at the Nou Camp.

The likes of Pedri, Francisco Trincao and Riqui Puig could also help to soften the blow of losing Lionel Messi soon.

Moriba almost became the latest Barca youngster to join Man City.

Talented centre-back Eric Garcia left the Catalan giants for Manchester in 2017.

But after failing to become a member of Pep Guardiola’s squad, Garcia now looks set for a summer exit.