Illaix Moriba and Lionel Messi: From a fan posing in a photo to a partner delivering assists

Ronald Koeman‘s decision to turn to teenager Illaix Moriba to replace Pedri against Sevilla on Saturday afternoon was a pleasant surprise to Mundo Deportivo, underlining the confidence the Dutchman has in the youngster. Ilaix played 20 minutes and enjoyed a key role in Barcelona’s second goal, teeing up Lionel Messi to score his 19th of the season.

Ilaix is a longtime fan of Messi, so to be assisting him in a crucial La Liga match must really be a dream come true. He shared photos he’s taken with him on social media a few days ago, both from when he met the Argentine as a child to when he played alongside him in the Blaugrana first team. He posted another image after the Sevilla game, of him hugging Messi.

Moriba arrived in Spain very young, with a Guinean mother and a Liberian father bringing him up. Espanyol spotted him first, but Barcelona managed to poach him beneath their neighbours noses and take him to La Masia at the age of just seven. A close friend of Fati – they refer to each other as brothers – Barcelona were so keen to retain his services and ward off suitors that they made him the best-paid player in La Masia, €2m per year with a release clause of €100m. He shares an agent with Gareth Bale.

Tags Barcelona Ilaix Moriba La Liga Lionel Messi