Ex-Barcelona star Ilaix Moriba's dad reveals he 'cancelled flight to Manchester' to seal Man City transfer before debut

THE father of Ilaix Moriba has revealed he cancelled his son’s flight to Manchester City so the teen could remain at Barcelona.

Moriba, 18, burst into Ronald Koeman’s team last season and was tipped for a bright future with the Catalans.

However, he chose to leave the Camp Nou last summer and joined RB Leipzig for around £16million after a row over his contract.

But, Moriba came close to joining Pep Guardiola at City two years ago when doubts emerged over a Barca deal back in 2019.

The Spain youth international, who is playing for Guinea at AFCON, had even booked a plane ticket to the Etihad as he searched for his first professional contract.

However, Moriba’s dad Mamady Kourouma cancelled the ticket on the morning of the flight after a breakthrough in contract talks with Barca.

He told Sport: “With Barcelona, the negotiations did not advance. We met with Txiki Begiristain [City’s 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 Barcelona.

“His friends were gone. If he stayed, it was proof Barca was betting on the youth players. We managed to reach an agreement where we all came out winning.”

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Barcelona indeed proved their determination to keep Moriba, making him the best-paid player in the history of their academy while handing him an £90million release clause.

Manchester United were thought to be eager to sign him as Paul Pogba’s long-term replacement.

While Chelsea are also said to be keeping tabs with N’Golo Kante not getting any younger.

However, he chose to continue his development in the Bundesliga, and has made six appearances for Leipzig this term.

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