Atletico Madrid are reportedly eyeing a swoop on arch-rivals Barcelona for teenage prodigy Ilaix Moriba, who is currently in a contract standoff with the club.
According to a report from El Gol Digital, Barcelona could be braced for a raid from fellow La Liga outfit Atletico Madrid for the signing of academy product Ilaix Moriba in the ongoing transfer window.
Moriba, widely regarded as the next big thing to be coming out of Barcelona’s La Masia academy, has been making all the right noises throughout his youth career. His rapid development meant that first-team boss Ronald Koeman handed him his debut for the Catalans in the season gone by, in January earlier this year in a Copa del Rey clash against Cornella.
Since then, Moriba featured quite regularly until the end of the season, although most of his appearances were from the bench. The 18-year-old finished the campaign with 18 appearances across all competitions, in which he also managed to score one goal and set up three more, showing incredible potential.
However, just when it seemed like the teenage prodigy could be set for a bigger role in the upcoming season, Moriba’s future at Barcelona has been cast under dark clouds. The midfielder is in the final year of his contract with Barcelona, and talks over a new deal aren’t going as smoothly as expected.
Given Barcelona’s financial turmoil, the Blaugrana are said to have offered terms that are well below the demands of Moriba’s camp. With the midfielder not agreeing to the terms being offered, he has now been exiled from the first-team training for the pre-season and will only be brought back into the fold should he sign a new deal. If not, the Catalans could be looking at a sale this summer.
This situation has alerted reigning La Liga champions Atletico Madrid, who are now considering swooping in to take Moriba away from Barcelona. Los Rojiblancos manager Diego Simeone is in the market for new central midfielders this summer, with Saul Niguez set to leave amid widespread interest from Premier League clubs, mainly Liverpool.
Given Moriba’s age and potential, he has now appeared as an appealing target to Atletico. The young midfielder has also been linked with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United in the past. And, it will be interesting to see whether they rekindle their interest in the Barcelona ace after the latest development. For now, Moriba is staring at an uncertain future at Camp Nou unless the contract situation is resolved.