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 is tipped for a bright future with the Catalans.

He’s clocked up 18 appearances in all competitions and scored his first-ever goal in a 2-0 win against Osasuna.

However, his future is up in the air after Barça president Joan Laporta revealed he can leave after a row over his contract.

Amazingly, 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 has reportedly chosen to represent his country of birth – Guinea – at senior level, 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.”

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.

But that contract expires in 2022, and Barcelona fear they may lose him for nothing.

Manchester United are thought to be eager as they hunt for Paul Pogba’s long-term replacement.

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

Moriba would like to stay at Barca but is reluctant to have his new release clause raised higher than £130m.

And that could cause conflict with the Catalans, who would prefer it to be nearer the £343m in fellow youngster Ansu Fati’s deal.

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