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It will not be easy for Ilaix Moriba to forget 21 January, 2021, the date the Barça B midfielder made his first team debut against Cornellà in the Copa del Rey. Moriba played 73 minutes before being substituted just days after celebrating his 18th birthday with the man replacing him his footballing role model, Sergio Busquets.
Key member of Garcia Pimienta's Barça B squad
The debut with the first team was a reward for all the hard work Ilaix Moriba has put in as part of Garcia Pimienta's Barça B squad. The coach himself spoke to the Club's website about the midfielder's first appearance for Ronald Koeman's team. "I am very happy for Ilaix for his debut with the first team. It is a reward he deserves and he is well aware that it has come about thanks to the work he puts in day in and day out for Barça B. He is clear, he knows his team is Barça B and that if he does well here as he has been doing, then it has been noticed and I am sure he will more chance like the one he had against Cornellà," says Garcia Pimienta.
Break through in the U19 side with Franc Artiga
Before making it to Barça B, Ilaix spent time in the U19A side coached by Franc Artiga. The midfielder scored four goals in nine league appearances for the U19A side last season as well as playing three games in the UEFA Youth League. It was as part of the U19A squad that he made his debut for Barça B. "He looks like a physical kind of player but his great quality is that he understands perfectly our way of playing and where to be on the field," Artiga says of a Moriba who also played under the coach at U19B and U16A level, winning the league title with all three squads.
Personality, leadership and character from an early age
Ilaix Moriba, born in Conakry (Guinea), arrived at Barça in 2010, at the age of seven, from Espanyol’s youth system. Starting in the Under-9s C team, he quickly moved up to the Under-10s A side. Always playing ahead of his age group, he was a league champion with the Under-10s A, Under-11s C, Under-12s A , Under-13s B, Under-13s A, Under-15s B and Under-16s A team, as well as winning the LaLiga Promises International tournament in 2015 in Miami.
He started the 2018/19 season with the Under-19s B team, but was moved to the Under-19s A team mid-season. That year he featured in five games in the UEFA Youth League, with a total of 298 minutes played, scoring a goal in the Round of 16 match against Hertha in Berlin.
“He is a player who likes challenges and when a game is at its most difficult or most demanding is when he appears at his best," reveals Marc Serra, current coach of the U16B side and who coached Ilaix at U10 level. "He is very clever and knows how to read his team mates and decide what to do at any given moment and above all he has the ability to push himself to get better and grow, and that makes him one for the future," continues Serra.
Another figure who has been important in the player's development is Youth Football technical secretary, Jordi Roura. "We have always paid close attention to his progression because who was a player with great potential. We came across each other in the U12 squad and we have followed him since then. He has always progressed quickly through the categories because his qualities deserved it and it is exciting to see him reach that potential," admits Roura.
As do his other coaches, Roura sees in Moriba a character that will serve him well. "From a young age we saw that when the game got tough, he was brave and was not phased, and that at a club like Barça is important," says Roura. "We knew about his personality so much of our work has been to translate it out on the field. To see his development shows that in the youth set up we are doing things in the right way."
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