Ilaix Moriba named in Barca squad

For the first time in his fledgling career, 17-year-old Ilaix Moriba has been named in the Barcelona first-team squad.

It’s a hugely significant moment for the youngster and also for the club.

As Barcelona look to recover from the disastrous Josep Maria Bartomeu era, the team and squad is taking on a much more youthful look.

Pedri, Konrad, Ansu Fati, Sergino Dest, Trincao, Riqui Puig et al… and now Ilaix.He’s long been compared to Paul Pogba because of his physicality and the way in which he marauds up and down the pitch.

To see him in full flight is a wonderful thing indeed, and as with Ansu and Pedri, Barca are going to have to keep a very tight hold on him when the vultures come sniffing as they surely will.

What’s interesting to note is that the club are very clearly now building for the future. A future that won’t include Lionel Messi.

But just how quickly the Argentinian disappears from the scene won’t be known until later in the season or, more likely, at season’s end.

Barca may not win anything with the kids, but they will bring a freshness and desire to the party, and, as we saw from Messi’s Cheshire Cat grin against Athletic Club, if the players are on his wavelength, there is genuine enjoyment on his part to play alongside them.

Will that be enough to have him stay at the club until he’s ready to return to Argentina? We’ll have to wait and see.

In the meantime, Ilaix will be hoping to play some part in Saturday afternoon’s game at Granada.

The Andalusians are down in seventh and were formidable opposition for the blaugranes at the Nuevo Estadio de los Carmenes last time out.

With the Catalans not able to drop any more points in their pursuit of an unlikely title, given that the first half of the campaign was their worst start for nigh on 50 years, one might expect Koeman to only bring Ilaix on for a cursory few minutes if the game looks like going Barca’s way.

Whether it is on Saturday or beyond, the fact that the youngster is being considered as a member of the first-team squad is a real boon.

If Victor Font were able to win the elections and bring Xavi in as promised, from next season we could see an entirely different Barca in style and in personnel.

And one which Lionel Messi would be proud to lead as he begins about thinking winding down his career.

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