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Villarreal take advantage of Leeds United decision to sign Barcelona star

Ilias Akhomach joins on a four-year-deal from Barcelona

Barcelona Athletic v CE Sabadell - Primera Federacion Photo by Noelia Deniz/Urbanandsport /NurPhoto via Getty Images

Villarreal have officially confirmed the addition of La Masia graduate Ilias Akhomach. Joining on a free-transfer.

The Spanish-Moroccan winger decided against renewing with La Blaugrana in the middle of the previous season, cutting his season with Barcelona Atlètic short by the time he had made 23 appearances. Ilias also made his first-team debut last season, coming on as a substitute twice in LaLiga and once in the Copa del Rey for Xavi’s title-winning side.

Currently on international duty at the U19 European Championships with Spain, the promising youngster will join-up with the Villarreal squad following the culmination of the tournament.

Despite being born in Els Hostalets de Pierola, in the Catalan capital, Akhomach is of Moroccan descent, and was eligible to participate in the North African U15 Championship in 2018, winning the tournament with the Atlas Lions.

Since the announcement was made in May 2023 that the 19-year-old did not wish to continue with Barcelona, many European clubs were interested in acquiring the signature of the winger, including Arsenal, Milan and Sevilla. Ilias even managed to reach an agreement with recently relegated Leeds United before the Whites simultaneously parted ways their Spanish sporting director, Victor Orta, and managerial compatriot, Javi Gracia, forcing the new Villarreal signing to make a U-turn.

As Nicolas Jackson departs for Chelsea, and Samuel Chukwueze continues to be linked with a move away, the signing of Ilias Akhomach is the replenishment of youth that the Yellow Submarine needed; he will definitely be one to watch as he initially links up with the B team in Segunda for the coming season.