The father of Barcelona wonderkid Ilaix Moriba has revealed that he cancelled a flight to Manchester just as the midfielder was about to join City in 2019.
Moriba made his long-awaited senior debut for Barca at the start of the year, and hit headlines after scoring his first goal for the club in a 2-0 win over Osasuna on March 6.
The 18-year-old is now being tipped to become a star for the Blaugrana’s next-generation, but his father claims his career path could have turned out differently had he not intervened when City tried to sign him two years ago.
Mamady Kourouma told SPORT: “With Barca, the negotiations [over his first professional contract] did not advance. We met with Txiki Begiristain [Man City sporting director] and he explained his entire project to us.
“We liked it because they bet a lot on him. A few weeks later we had the tickets to travel to Manchester and sign the contract.
“I cancelled it the morning that we had to go there. I wanted Ilaix to be an example and a reference for the next generations of Barca.
“His friends were gone. If he stayed, it was proof that Barca was betting on the youth players. We managed to reach an agreement where we all came out winning.”
Moriba joined Barca’s academy ranks in 2010 after a stint at Espanyol, and has since worked his way up to first-team level.
The teenager broke into the club’s B team at the age of just 17, earning comparisons with Manchester United star Paul Pogba due to his physicality, technical ability and vision.
Similarities were also drawn between Moriba and City legend Yaya Toure, who won two Premier League titles at Etihad Stadium after joining the club from Barcelona at the height of his career.
City were hopeful that Moriba would follow in Toure’s footsteps, but he opted to continue his development at Camp Nou by committing his future to the Blaugrana through to 2022.
Moriba will be back in contention for a place in Ronald Koeman’s squad when Barca host Huesca in La Liga on Monday night. He could also feature when the Spanish giants travel to Real Sociedad five days later.