Villarreal, Morocco: finally the season of revelation for Ilias Akhomach?


By: Manu Tournoux

He is one of the architects of Villarreal’s victory on the pitch at Stade Rennais during the sixth and final day of the Europa League: Ilias Akhomach scored the second visitor goal at Roazhon Park to participate in the success of Submarino amarillo (under -yellow sailor in Spanish) to steal the leadership position in Group F from the Rouge-et-Noir and thus avoid competing in an additional play-off in the final phase of the C3. The perfect moment for the native of Hostalets de Pierola to open his professional goal counter, after some achievements with Juvenil A (U19) of FC Barcelona (4) and Barça Atlétic (1), but without passing the milestone in the Blaugrana first team (3 matches between La Liga and the Copa del Rey).

However, Akhomach was one of the 15 products of the Masia to make his debut for the A under the leadership of Xavi Hernandez, the first even launched by the Spanish technician in November 2021. However, his lack of playing time during his two recent seasons forced him to join another ship to continue his progress, he who was already considered one of the greatest hopes of the Catalan training center. Finally, it was Villarreal who made the good deal by signing the Spanish-Moroccan right winger, free of any contract after twelve years with the reigning Spanish champion, with a stint at Gimanstic Manresa, where he continued his training for four seasons before returning to Barça in 2017.

Change of club… and selection

A real will-o’-the-wisp in the youth teams, Ilias Akhomach finally has the adequate playing time to play a series of matches and show the talent unearthed by Barça during his youth. And if he did not have to be content with starts under three coaches (Quique Setien, Pacheta then Marcelino), the young Hispano-Moroccan knew how to take advantage of the minutes to be decisive, with a first offering delivered against Las Palmas, before delivering two assists in the Coupe du Roi. If he had to wait three months to shake the nets for the first time in the Groguets jersey (yellow in Valencian), his gradual rise in power only justifies his good decision to have left Barça. Not only for his future at club, but also in selection…

Because yes, while he defended the La Roja jersey in the youth teams from U16 to Espoirs of which he was captain (33 selections in total over 4 categories), Ilias Akhomach decided to change his sporting nationality recently, informing the Spanish Federation that he will now defend the colors of Morocco (he had already played three matches with the Moroccan U15s). The Atlas Lion Cub did not hide his great joy before his first selection for the U23s (3-0 defeat against Denmark): “I am extremely happy to finally have the chance to represent my country within this national team that I always dreamed of joining.” A timely return to Morocco – African champion in the category – which benefits from increased weight a few months before the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

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