Barcelona suspect rivals Real Madrid could be the reason contract talks have stalled with starlet Ilaix Moriba, with Los Blancos circling to pinch the talented teenager.
The 18-year-old's contract is set to expire at the end of the 2021/22 campaign, meaning he could walk away from Camp Nou for free next summer. La Blaugrana are keen to tie him down to a new long-term contract, but they are making little progress as the weeks continue to tick away.
Goal has reported that Barcelona believe enemies Madrid are to blame for this lack of progress. The Catalan giants suspect Moriba is a target for Los Merengues, and the potential switch to Santiago Bernabeu is very tempting for the midfielder.
Barça are putting their foot down over the negotiations, having told Moriba that he will not be able to train or work with the first-team squad until he resolves his contract dispute, forcing him to make up his mind as soon as possible.
Moriba's representatives have denied any contact between themselves and Madrid, and have described the potential move to the Spanish capital as 'very difficult'. Barça will work hard to secure the youngster's services for the long-term future, having tipped him for greatness since his emergence through the Masia academy.
Moriba was handed the highest salary ever awarded to a youth player back in 2019, with Barça confident he was set to become a superstar. And they'll be hoping that the midfielder repays that early faith shown in his abilities by rejecting any possible distractions and committing to Camp Nou.
Despite the history that suggests Barça and Madrid are serious enemies, the pair actually share a good working relationship at boardroom level. Respective presidents Joan Laporta and Florentino Perez have stood alongside their counterpart in the fight for the European Super League, and there is little friction between them.
It's viewed as unlikely then that Perez would throw away that good relationship by snatching one of Barça's jewels from under their nose.