Barcelona teenager Ilaix Moriba, who shares Gareth Bale's agent Jonathan Barnett, has signed a three-year deal worth two million euros.
Perhaps not many people will know the name of teenager Ilaix Moriba outside La Masia. But the 16-year-old Barcelona youth player, born in Guinea but with Spanish citizenship, is one of the pearls of the club’s academy, who are determined not to let him escape.
And that is why they have renewed the young midfielder’s contract until 2022, awarding him with a two-million-euro salary that will be paid over the three-year duration. And to ward off the approach of other clubs, Barça have set his termination clause of 100 million euros.
In addition to the two million euros that the player will earn, a further 2.5 million euros will be shared out between his family and representatives. The youngster’s impressive deal can be mainly attributed to his agents, the hard-bargaining pair of Jonathan Barnett and Luis Alonso.
Barnett, of course, is well known as the agent to football stars of the level of Gareth Bale and is one of the most influential agents on the global football scene.
Moriba, who arrived from city rivals Espanyol in 2010, made the jump to Barca’s U-19s last summer. He has played five of the UEFA Youth League fixtures the season, scoring a goal in the latest game, the 3-0 win of Hertha Berlin in the last 16.
The club consider him a player in the mould of Yaya Touré or Paul Pogba and are keen to hold onto him to see if his potential can be developed to the same level of such footballing powerhouses.
La Masia determined to keeps its promising talent
In recent times, there have been many players who have left the Barça academy before ever making the jump to the first team. Cases like that of Cesc Fàbregas (Monaco) or Héctor Bellerín (Arsenal) have occurred frequently, with players triumphing at other clubs after having been overlooked by Barcelona’s first team coaches. Another recent case in point is Mauro Icardi at Inter Milan.
But the Catalan club no longer want their youth academy to feed other clubs. That is why they have decided to shield talent like Moriba by breaking out the chequebook.
Now the problem for the club is perhaps the precedent it has set with Moriba, as there are other promising footballers from the academy whose agents could come knocking to demand similar treatment – as could be the case with Mino Raiola (agent of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic) with the young midfielder Xavi Simons.