Chelsea are reportedly leading the race to sign Barcelona midfielder Ilaix Moriba, who is also being chased by RB Leipzig and Manchester City.
According to a report from Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo, as relayed by Sport Witness, Chelsea are in a ‘good position’ to secure the signing of Barcelona contract rebel Ilaix Moriba, who is also a transfer target for Manchester City and RB Leipzig.
Moriba, a product of Barcelona’s reputed La Masia youth setup, broke into the first-team midway through the last season and soon became a familiar face in Ronald Koeman’s side, racking up 18 appearances, in which he scored one goal and set up three more as well.
However, Moriba, who was tipped for a bright future at Camp Nou, suddenly finds himself staring at the exit doors. The 18-year-old has entered the final year of his contract with Barcelona and has so far turned down the new deal that the club had offered, as he holds out for a bigger pay packet.
The situation has led to him being banished from the first-team, with the teenager now back with the youth team. In case, an extension is not agreed upon, Barcelona may very well decide to cash in on him this summer instead of losing him on a free transfer a year down the line. And Moriba’s current plight has led to strong interest from several clubs across Europe, including Manchester City and Chelsea.
Chelsea have a top midfield unit comprising quality players like N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic, with young Billy Gilmour an option ready to step up after he returns from his loan spell. However, Kante is edging close to 31 and has had injury issues of late, while his contract also runs out in a couple of years.
So, bringing in someone like Ilaix Moriba, to future-proof the midfield unit for the Blues, as he can be groomed into taking over from the Frenchman if and when he decides to move on.
As for Manchester City, they will also need to replace club captain Fernandinho, who is 36 and in the final year of his contract while Ilkay Gundogan is not getting any younger either. So, bringing in a new midfielder to add more quality and depth to the midfield, where they already have Rodri, would make sense.
Apart from the two clubs, there is also a strong interest in Moriba from RB Leipzig. However, as per the report, the German giants are unwilling to meet Barcelona’s asking price of €20 million for the 18-year-old, whereas Manchester City are only planning to sign him as a free agent in the next summer.
This has left Chelsea as the clear frontrunners as they are prepared to offer more than what RB Leipzig are willing to shell out for the teenage prodigy. It now remains to be seen whether the Blues actually go ahead with the signing of the midfielder or look at other options such as AS Monaco’s Aurelien Tchouameni.