Speaking in an interview with Catalunya Radio, Villarreal new signing Ilias Akhomach has opened up on his decision to leave FC Barcelona as a free agent this summer to join the Yellow Submarine.
A product of the Barcelona youth academy, Ilias had shown a lot of promise and potential throughout his youth career.
On the back of that, the 19-year-old made his first-team debut for the Blaugrana in 2021 under manager Xavi Hernandez. The winger went on to make three senior appearances for the club but spent the last season with Barça Atletic, making 23 appearances and scoring one goal.
With Ilias’ contract expiring on June 30, attempts were made to renew his deal, but the winger opted not to sign a new one. Instead, he signed for Villarreal as a free agent, penning a three-year contract until 2026 with Quique Setien’s side.
Now, opening up on his decision to leave Barcelona for Villarreal, the Spanish youngster said (h/t Mundo Deportivo):
“It’s hard to leave Barça, you’ve been training in the same place for thirteen years, with the same routine, but once I made the decision with my family and my agent, a decision that was mainly mine, it’s clear to me that it’s what I needed and what I want.
“And now I have to think about what is coming and not about what has happened. I’m very excited.”
Further explaining his decision, Ilias added that it was difficult to get a place in the Barcelona first team which prompted him to leave.
“At Barça, it’s complicated to get a place in any position because it’s one of the best teams in the world,” he said.
When asked if he got a chance to speak to Xavi before leaving the club, Ilias replied: “I couldn’t talk to Xavi before I left.”