Ilaix Moriba last signed a contract with Barcelona in April 2019 after rejecting an opportunity to join Manchester City.
The Citizens were chasing the midfielder for months and were waiting for him to turn 16 (January 2019) to secure his services.
However, the now 18-year-old then snubbed a chance to join Pep Guardiola’s side in order to continue at the Camp Nou.
Moriba’s decision has paid off as he has been given opportunities in the first team by Ronald Koeman. The teenager has made six appearances in all competitions and has a goal and two assists to his name.
Moriba’s father, Mamady, has revealed he held talks with City sporting director Txiki Begiristain before his son signed a contract with the Catalan club.
“With Barca, the negotiations did not advance. We met with Txiki Begiristain and he explained his entire project to us,” Moriba Sr told Sport.
“We liked it because they bet a lot on him. A few weeks later we had the tickets to travel to Manchester and sign the contract. I cancelled it the same morning that we had to go there.
“I wanted Ilaix to be an example and reference for the upcoming Barca generations. His friends were gone. If he stayed, it was proof that Barca was betting on the youth players. And we managed to reach an agreement that we all came out winning.”
Sport recollects Ilaix’s renewal back then wasn’t easy for the La Liga side, who were slow to react when several other clubs wanted him at that time.
A move away from Barcelona ‘could change the life of the one who is now a Barca first team player’.
Mamady insisted it was a ‘very thoughtful decision’ to reject an approach from the Etihad club to continue with Barca. Throughout the talks for renewal, those in charge at Barca were of the belief there was ‘no option’ for Ilaix to stay at the club.
“One day I got up and went to La Masia without representatives. I told them: I love Barca but you must make an effort so that Ilaix stays, we don’t want to leave.
“We would have earned more money abroad. He knew that La Masia coaches wanted him and we wanted to stay. It was a difficult situation.”
“[Eric] Abidal and [José Mari] Bakero were key for Barca to bet on my son, they turned to us so that we did not leave and convinced others that Ilaix should continue at Barca.”