Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has spoken about youngster Ilaix Moriba’s “horrible” situation at the Camp Nou and admits he is “disappointed” by the 18-year-old midfielder.
Moriba burst into the first team last season under Koeman but has been demoted to the reserves amid a contract stand-off with the club. The 18-year-old is out of contract in 2022 but has refused to sign a new deal and could now spend the whole season in the stands, according to Diario Sport.
Koeman was asked about Moriba’s situation at a pre-match press conference on Friday and shared his thoughts on the youngster, as reported by Mundo Deportivo.
“I spoke with him two or three weeks ago, more as a person than as a Barça coach. For me his situation is horrible. He’s a young player, 18 years old, he had the chance to play in the first team last season, he’s the future of the club,” he said. “He’s in a situation where he’s not playing, he’s not with us. I know what the club wants to offer this player. My advice to any player is that the money is not the most important thing. The most important thing is to play matches. That’s my message to him. The player and his people have decided differently and I’m disappointed about this. I believe more in football things than in contracts. At 18 years old, money is not so important.”
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Moriba Already Replaced At Barcelona?
Koeman did have praise for another Barcelona youngster, Nico Gonzalez, who looks set to benefit from Moriba’s difficulties at the Camp Nou. The 19-year-old made his debut in Sunday’s 4-2 win over Real Sociedad, coming off the bench to replace Sergio Busquets.
The Barca boss said he is willing to count on the youngsters this season but wants them to play regularly for Barca B alongside training with the first team so as to continue their development.
“I’m going to count on the youngsters. If they don’t play with the first team, they should do it with Barça B,” he said. “Despite training, they must compete. Nico, like the rest, is the future of the club.”
Nico is one of several youngsters included in the Barca squad for Saturday’s trip to Athletic Bilbao. Yusuf Demir, Gavi, Alejandro Balde, Arnau Tenas, and Inaki Pena also make the squad.
Koeman Confirms Pedri Rest
The youngsters could be set for some first-team chances in the coming weeks with Koeman also confirming that Pedri is set for a rest after a hectic schedule for club and country.
The 18-year-old has played 74 times in the last year for Barcelona and the Spain national team and will feature against Athletic. However, the the youngster will then be handed some time to recharge his batteries.
“He will play tomorrow and then he’ll have two weeks of holiday so he doesn’t go into November and December with physical problems,” he said. “We’ve given him two weeks of holiday because that’s what Pedri needs.”
Nico, Gavi, Demir, and Riqui Puig are all options to come into the team and replace Pedri against Getafe. Michel’s side visit the Camp Nou on Sunday, August 29,