Alen Halilovic: Scouting Report for Real Madrid Transfer Target
If the latest transfer gossip is to be believed, Real Madrid are currently trying to persuade the wave of the future to wash up on its shores come January.
Dinamo Zagreb's pocket magician Alen Halilovic has reportedly been targeted by the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Real Madrid since emerging from Dinamo's much vaunted youth system (via Daily Mail).
But with his fellow Croat Luka Modric now plying his trade at the Bernabeu, it is believed by some that Madrid have the edge over the Premier League rivals for the Balkan youngster's signature (via The Mirror).
Having turned 16 in the summer, Halilovic made his debut for the first team in September in a 3-1 win over Hajduk Split, becoming the youngest player to debut for the historic Croatian side in the process.
He even bulged the back of the net in his second substitute appearance, becoming the youngest goalscorer in the history of the Prva HNL with a well taken chip over an advancing keeper.
At 5'1", he could easily be mistaken for one of Snow White's dwarfs, but it is this lack of height that allows for superb balance and change of pace that has perhaps been the primary reason for comparisons with Lionel Messi.
He is deceptively strong with a low centre of gravity, though of course he would still need to continue to bulk up before moving to a top European league.
It was perhaps his silky touch and passing abilities that put him on a different level to his teammates from a young age.
Comfortable with the ball at his feet, Halilovic is able to utilise his excellent dribbling abilities and sudden burst of acceleration to beat opposition defenders one-on-one.
The attacking midfielder is also a very clinical finisher in front of goal, and could be pushed up into more of an attacking centre forward role later in his burgeoning career.
While fellow Dinamo youngsters Sime Vrsjalko and Mateo Kovacic have been touted as future superstars, it is possible Halilovic has the potential to eclipse even their eagerly-awaited careers.
It should be noted, however, that the age which a player makes his debut doesn't necessarily represent a mark of his talent or potential.
Luka Modric didn't make his debut for Dinamo until he was 19, while his ex-Tottenham teammate Vedran Corluka played his first game at age 20.
But considering the footballers who have come up through the youth setup, it is extraordinary that club officials are currently labelling Halilovic the most prodigious in recent memory.
It seems he has kept his head firmly attached to his shoulders in the wake of speculation though, recently declaring "stories about Manchester United and Real Madrid? I do not spend much time thinking about those rumours" (via Goal.com).
"Dinamo Zagreb will decide what happens. All I have to do is try to improve as much as I can—everything else does not matter now."
He has also tried to deflect some of the hype surrounding him, most significantly regarding comparisons with Barcelona's Lionel Messi.
"Just don't call me Messi. I admire Leo, but I am a long way from him. For now my goal is to play well and to show the coach he can count on me" (via UEFA.com).
In terms of a potential price tag, I wouldn't be surprised to see an offer of at least €10 million having to be made to secure a transfer. Though if his development continues along its current path, that amount is sure to rise in the coming years.
But if Jose Mourinho has already set his heart on acquiring the wonderkid in January, Dinamo may have to succumb to the European superpower and part with one of their crown jewels.
What do you think of Alen Halilovic? Would a move to Madrid so early in his career be a good thing?
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