Amid Manchester United’s desire to strengthen in midfield, Barcelona talent Ilaix Moriba is a potential solution.
Moriba was linked to Manchester United earlier this year, with The Mirror reporting the Red Devils had made an approach.
Moriba enjoyed a breakthrough 2020/21 campaign, scoring one La Liga goal and providing two assists in four starts, and a further 10 substitute appearances.
A contract dispute has put him back to square one. Moriba is refusing to sign a new deal, with his current contract set to expire in 2022.
Spanish newspaper AS report Moriba has been demoted to Barcelona’s B team and told to report for their pre-season training camp.
The report describes Moriba’s situation as ‘unsustainable’, adding that he risks throwing away a year of his career, while Barcelona would be losers too, as they would then lose him on a free transfer next summer.
Moriba has a £85 million release clause, which right now is fairly irrelevant considering his contract status.
United were claimed last month to have made an offer for Moriba by Fichajes, although this could have been inaccurate. With his deal ticking down and present situation unsatisfactory, there could be some merit to United making a move.
Barcelona’s stretched financial situation would make them even more likely to consider a bid for the player.
Marca report they are open to bids and won’t offer Moriba an improved contract as they are ‘fed up’ with the players’ refusal to sign a deal.
What could Moriba offer United?
Moriba would join United’s growing cast of talented young midfielders. He could be recruited at a very low price, making it a very risk-averse move.
Speaking after Ilaix’s goal against Osasuna earlier this year, manager Ronald Koeman was quoted by Barca Blaugrunes: “Every time he comes into the team he gives the team something extra, because of his personality, his energy, most of all he’s good with the ball, and physically he’s a strong boy. He’s gaining ground and showing he can be more with the first team.”
Moriba has been a standout player through the youth levels at Barcelona, with his physical stature helping him to dominate games.
Barca Universal compare him to Yaya Toure, reporting that he has been utilised in attacking roles in the academy even as a striker, and he is capable on the defensive side of the game too, calling him a ‘pressing monster’.
Moriba is the type of rough diamond who United could develop into an elite player. At just 18-year-old, he has his best years ahead of him. His situation at Barcelona needs resolving, and there are little signs of an amicable solution. United could take a look at offering him a fresh start.
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