The decision that stopped Ilaix Moriba joining Man City

The Barca midfielder was close to joining the English side

| sport

Albert Rogé

Ilaix Moriba’s contract renewal with Barcelona was not easy. Many clubs wanted him and Barcelona were a bit slow to react.

Mamady, his father, told us some anecdotes about those weeks that could have changed the life of the Barca midfielder.

“With Barca, negotiations were not advancing. We met Txiki Begiristain (City’s sporting director) 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 annulled it that same morning we were supposed to go there,” said Mamady. “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.”

During the negotiation period there were many moments where Barca chief thought there were no options for him to stay.

“From the first day we sat down I said that I wanted my son to stay at Barca,” said Mamady. “One day I got up and I went to La Masia without agents. I told them ‘I love Barca but you have to make an effort for Ilaix to stay, we don’t want to live.’ We would have earned a lot more elsewhere. I knew that La Masia coaches wanted us and we wanted to stay. It was a hard situation.”

In negotiations two men from Barca pushed for Ilaix. “Abidal and Bakero were key in Barca betting on my son. They helped us stay and convinced others that Ilaix should stay in Blaugrana.”

As well as Man City, Juve and Chelsea were interested. Borussia Dortmund too, along with other Bundesliga teams now like Leipzig. Some asked Abidal to loan him, but he said no.

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