Manchester United have reportedly expressed a keen interest in signing Barcelona midfielder Ilaix Moriba. The 18-year-old has impressed for the Catalan club when called upon, providing three goal contributions in four La Liga appearances since the beginning of the campaign.
United have also been linked with fellow Barca youngster Ansu Fati, who has flourished out wide for the Spanish giants, but could instead look to land Moriba in order to supplement their ranks in the middle of the park.
He is the latest young talent to roll off the production line at Barca’s world-famous La Masia academy and has been tipped to enjoy a long and fruitful career in the game.
The Red Devils were linked with the teenager’s services earlier this month, with reports suggesting that an offer had already been tabled.
If John Murtough can successfully make Moriba his first signing in his new role, it would represent a huge coup for the club with the youngster a natural heir to the likes of Pogba in United’s midfield.
He is powerful and imposing, with his six-foot frame helping him to dominate in the air and with the ball at feet in a style more suited to the Premier League than La Liga.
As you would expect from a player fresh out of Barca’s academy, his technical ability is also very good.
His on-pitch awareness allows him to take up a box-to-box role, able to spearhead attacks from deep with his cultured range of passing while helping out at the back when needed.
Although he is far from the finished product at just 18 years of age, his physical and mental strengths could be nurtured under the guidance of United in order to shape him into a top-class central midfielder fit to grace Premier League pitches.
The Red Devils are aware that Moriba is only under contract until the end of next season, a situation that could force Barca into cashing in this summer to avoid the prospect of losing him for nothing a year later.
The player himself is said to be happy in Spain and is not pushing for a move away due to his ambition of becoming a regular starter for his current employers.
However, money talks in football and United have this in abundance.
Moriba could be available for much less than Fati, who has already established himself as a regular member of Barca’s senior side and would likely command a nine-figure transfer fee.
With Barca struggling financially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, they could be tempted to cash in on Moriba in the summer in the event that he fails to sign a new deal.
He has been hailed as a star of the future, with former coach Denis Silva Puig claiming two years ago that he would be well-suited to a club like United due to his physicality and all-round ability in the middle of the park.
“Here he’s called the ‘Pogba of Barca’ because he’s like a young Pogba, but also he is very, very intelligent and that is his big potential,” Puig told Bleacher Report.
“He is a top player, no doubt. He’s a little bit, maybe modern, in the English football kind of sense. It’s good to have him at Barca.”
Moriba could prove to be a shrewd signing for United, who will reportedly be in the market for a new central midfielder this summer.
His natural talent makes him a strong candidate to succeed amid the physicality of the Premier League, with the ability to learn from established stars like Pogba and Scott McTominay certain to help in developing his all-round game.
Although Barca will be looking to keep hold of Moriba for as long as possible, United could be missing a trick if they fail to tempt him to Old Trafford in the summer before his value really starts to skyrocket.