Tensions between Barcelona and youth academy starlet Ilaix Moriba have reached new heights in recent days, as La Blaugrana are now ‘fed up’ with the teenager’s contract demands, and won’t budge any higher than their latest offer.
The 18-year-old’s current deal expires in the summer of 2022, and the Catalan giants are keen to tie down their wonderkid to a long-term contract, or risk losing him for nothing at the end of the season.
Barça have worked hard throughout the summer to fend off interest in Moriba and to offer an attractive contract to the midfielder, but so far, they have failed to entice the Masia product. And according to Marca, frictions between the club and player have reached untenable levels.
But what exactly has happened between Barça and Moriba?
Barça have nurtured Moriba into the in-demand player he is today, and back in 2019, they decided to put their money where their mouth is. The Spanish side stumped up the most lucrative contract ever offered to a youth team player in the club’s history, worth more than half a million pounds a year.
That deal runs until the summer of 2022, meaning he could become a free agent at the end of the season. Subsequently, it’s become Barça’s priority to extend that deal.
Eager to resolve the situation, Barcelona put a new contract on the table for Moriba to sign in June 2021. But since that moment, relationships have soured and demands have failed to be met.
The midfielder and his representatives were clearly not happy with La Blaugrana’s offer, rejecting the contract in the hope of securing a higher salary.
Barça were surprised by Moriba’s firm stance, given the player had grown up in the Masia academy and had been handed such a historic and lucrative contract back in 2019. They were also aware of interest around Europe, which may have caught their teenager’s eye.
In fact, Barcelona even feared that fierce rivals Real Madrid were somehow involved in the player’s decision to reject their offer, believing that los Merengues may have been tempting Moriba into running down his contract and signing as a free transfer in the summer.
As paranoia subsided, Barcelona began to grow in confidence over Moriba’s future. They became more assured that the midfielder would extend his stay at the club after holding further talks with his representatives.
Coach Ronald Koeman was unwilling to take Moriba with the squad on their pre-season tour without clarity over his future and a contract extension, putting pressure on his agent to come to an agreement. At this point, an extension was considered ‘more than possible.’
As we all know, the signature never arrived.
Koeman has got no time for players who kick up a fuss and don’t give 100% for the team, and so he took the controversial decision to banish Moriba from the pre-season tour.
Even if the fresh talks had seen the two parties’ demands shrink in difference, not enough progress had been made to convince Moriba to commit his future to Camp Nou, and the impasse continued.
He was left behind while his teammates travelled to Germany for their Liga preparations, with Koeman confirming that the midfielder would play no part in his plans until signing a new contract.
That brings us up to the end of July 2021, with only 11 months remaining on Moriba’s contract. The latests reports from Spain claim that Barça are ‘fed up’ with the starlet’s demands, and have instead offered an ultimatum: Sign the contract, or leave the club.
They are not willing to increase the offer presented to Moriba, and have told him that they’ve reached the ceiling in their negotiations. If he decides not to agree to the deal, he will play no part in their plans for the season, and will be allowed to leave.
Barça are of course hoping that Moriba will have a change of heart and decide to sign the contract, but they want him to make that decision as soon as possible, so they can look to sell him in the summer, rather than losing him for free next year.