Next Best Thing; Barcelona’s Boisterous Croat Blonde Bombshell

Alen Halilovic (Barcelona No: 23)
Alen Halilovic (Barcelona No: 23)
Alen Halilovic (Croat Superstar)
Alen Halilovic (Croat Superstar)

In a world where the “next best thing” is always a hot commodity, one cannot describe how pleasant it is to browse the papers over a pint skimming through an article about the next exciting football prospect worth going down to the betting store over and putting down some Randela’s on them becoming top class internationals. Now very few of these protégés end up becoming the greats they were hyped up to be by the glowing reviews, as my bookmakers bank balance will attest to; but the journeys  I have undergone tracking many of these young players has been worth every single penny scraped into a bet.

#TheTalentScout

For the last decade and some change, Croatian football seems to churn out talented wunderkinds by the season, players that have the rest of the football fraternity scampering to catch a glimpse of the latest hot talent to come out of a developmentally fertile land. One of the main reasons for this is that fact that Croatia is home to one of the most structured football academies in our beautiful game, the academy wing of GNK Dinamo Zagreb is an institution that prides itself on developing top class young talent to sell off to the bigger leagues in Europe while pocketing handsome transfer fees. In order to be so successful in this business model, the institution has to be producing players of a high calibre that have the potential to grow into established stars wherever they land up, attracting the attentions of top sides across the fraternity while barely in their teens and ensuring that the conveyor belt keeps brining us elite level ready talents to salivate over.

One of the best footballers to come out of this thriving institution is an 18 year old blond bangs having attacking mastermind who has been setting the football fraternity ablaze since the age of 15. Alen Halilović is an ultra talented young footballer that has all the natural gifts to become the next best young footballer to set the La Liga alight, having moved to FC Barcelona on May 2nd 2014, shortly after his 18th birthday, the young magician has been earning rave reviews in the FC Barcelona B-Team since his arrival and it is only a matter of time before he becomes a first team fixture in the star packed attacking unit that aims to play football the right way; considering the average age of that legendary midfield, Alen seems to be in the prime position at the right club for him to fulfil his potential and exceed even his own wildest expectations.

A record setting and breaking young lad, Alen is the youngest ever goal scorer in the Croatian Prva HNL after he scored his first league goal for the side while aged 16 years and 112 days. At 16 years of age, he was also the youngest ever debutant for Croatian national team, a feat that made many more football lovers in our fraternity sit up and take note of the lad and his prodigious abilities. Halilović made his first team debut for GNK Dinamo Zagreb as an 18th minute sub in the 3-1 Eternal Derby victory over HNK Hajduk Split on September 27th of 2012, breaking a record set by fellow teammate and GNK Dinamo Zagreb graduate the boisterous regista Mateo Kovačić; that record was broken by another GNK Dinamo Zagreb graduate, Fran Brodić, who came on as an 85th minute sub against NK Inter Zaprešić aged 16 years 3 months and 6 days, Alen has 16 years and 101 days old when he broke the previous record. Yet it does not stop there, Halilović is also the youngest Champions League debutant in the history of GNK Dinamo Zagreb and the 2nd youngest in the history of the illustrious competition, behind legendary Nigerian left fullback Céléstine Babayaro who set the record in the 94/95 campaign, after he appeared for GNK Dinamo Zagreb in the Group Stages of the Champions League on October 24th, 2012.

Prior to agreeing his career defining move to La Masia, Alen starred for Croatia as they narrowly missed out on a semi-final berth at the 2013 UEFA u/17 Championship in Slovakia, the Croatians were unfortunate to lose out after the top 3 teams in the group, Russia and Italy being the others, were all tied on 5 points. Russia went onto win their 3rd title but Alen Halilović had won over the hearts of many admirers with his breathtaking dribbling abilities and the vision of a far more mature trequartista.

The former Croatia u/14, u/15, u/16, u/17 and u/18 international has gone to La Masia to further his development as a talented wunderkind; adapting to the structure and style of a big team like FC Barcelona is not an easy task as their playing ideology is steadfast and even the most talented of footballers have struggled to adapt to the pressures of acclimatising to playing the Barça way. The Barcelona B-Team no: 23 has been rumoured to be upset by the fact that he has been playing at a level that he seems to have out-grown, yet his representatives have settled the young lad very well and there seems to be a concise plan for his development at FC Barcelona and its pivotal for all interested parties to ensure that the lad stays grounded and continues to develop at a steady rate. The son of former Bosnia and Herzegovina skipper Sejad Halilović, who is an GNK Dinamo youth academy coach, has all the opportunity and ability to grow into one of the finest players ever to grace the lavish Camp Nou pitch and possibly even prove that he is a worthy heir to the throne currently occupied by Andrés Iniesta as the conductor of one of football’s most beautiful orchestras; some may say it is too early to call it but Alen Halilović is a definite star in the making and Bobs your ujak.

Bio

Full Name: Alen Halilović

DoB: June 18th, 1996 (18)

PoB: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Height: 1, 70m

Position: Attacking Midfielder, Advanced Playmaker, Trequartista

Club: FC Barcelona

Contract Expiry: June 30th, 2019

Market Value: € 5m

Career Club Record: 84 Games, 11 Goals & 5 Assists

Caps & Goals: Croatia u/14 {2 Caps, 1 Goal}, Croatia u/15 {6 Caps, 3 Goals}, Croatia u/16 {4 Caps, 1 Goals}, Croatia u/17 {10 Caps, 2 Goals}, Croatia u/18 {3 Caps, 1 Goal}, Croatia u/21 {1 Cap}, Croatia {7 Caps}

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