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Ilaix Moriba puts another smile back on Barcelona’s faces

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Growing with every game

Osasuna v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

The smile across Ilaix Moriba’s face as his team-mates surrounded him to congratulate the youngster on the goal that finally put Osasuna to bed said it all.

It was replicated throughout the side and no doubt any cules watching were doing their best Cheshire Cat impression too.

In the space of a handful of substitute appearances in the first team, he too is beginning to emerge as just the type of player Barca need.

Fearless, dynamic and strong, there is also so much joy in the way that he plays the game.

It’s beautiful to watch and it’s clear that he’s living the dream, but this isn’t a token gesture by Ronald Koeman. Ilaix is slowly but surely and deservedly playing his way into the team.

The old cliche that ‘if they’re good enough, they’re old enough’ certainly applies here, and kudos again to Koeman for having the bravery to throw the youngsters in at the deep end.

In the most important part of the season and after the worst possible start, the Dutchman hasn’t been afraid to take risks and, by and large, they’ve paid off.

At present, Barca have an astonishing away record in 2021, and though that might be due in part to no home fans in the stadiums, no one can say that each win hasn’t been fully deserved.

Two points behind Atletico Madrid, albeit they have two games in hand, means that we are still in the title conversation, and who honestly would’ve said that even six weeks ago.

For Ilaix, read Pedri. And Riqui Puig, Oscar Mingueza, Sergino Dest and Ansu Fati. Frenkie de Jong is only slightly older at 23.

All of those named, without exception, have turned what was a disaster of a season around and, despite everything, have left us wanting more.

Whisper it quietly... we’ve actually got something to look forward to again. A little rough around the edges yes, but nothing that can’t be solved with a little polish here or there.

Even if we were to end the season without any silverware, the kids have done themselves proud in the most trying of circumstances.

They’ve given us all hope when there was none. Joy when all we felt was pain. A reason to believe once again.

This really could finally be the start of something special, and how good does that feel?!

Now if we can just get Leo to sign on the dotted line...