Ilaix Moriba is on a cloud. The Barça B midfielder is in the first team dynamic and his dream of making his debut for the senior side is closer than ever.
Naturally ambitious, Ilaix always wants more. When he reached one objective, he's already thinking of the next. For years people have said he is made for the first team.
"He's special, there are very few players with his profile in La Masia," coaches at the academy have been saying since he was kid.
They weren't wrong. Ilaix raced through the age groups and is already, at the age of 17, playing regularly for Garcia Pimienta's B team. Age doesn't matter. Character does. And Ilaix has it in bundles.
Many will remember that his contract renewal was a big issue when he turned 16. Manchester City, Juventus, Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund sounded out his people over a free transfer.
Barça, in an offer without precedents, broke all the established etiquette in the academy by offering him a huge contract to ensure he remained at Camp Nou.
During recent months, Leipzig and Monchengladbach have also tried to sign Ilaix -- in the summer and now, again, in January. Eric Abidal refused to let him go, not even on loan.
Ilaix's people weren't against it. A year on loan in Germany to develop and come back better. But Barça didn't accept and Ilaix remained with the B team with the objective of challenging for a first team place.
And he's on track. Thanks to Ronald Koeman in part. The Dutch coach is aware of the situation and is managing it well. The only debatable decision is not giving him a debut against Granada with the match won at 4-0.
But there will be more chances. And Ilaix knows it. He doesn't want to listen to offers now. He wants to stay. Credit to Koeman, who has backed him.
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