Manchester United and Manchester City will aim to take advantage of Barcelona's transfer ban if FIFA decides Alen Halilovic's move cannot go ahead, according to reports.
The Premier League duo are outlined as favourites to snap up Dinamo Zagreb's 17-year-old star if Barca's appeal against their recently imposed sanction fails. The Guardian's Simon Yeend provides the details:
Manchester United and Manchester City have both been put on alert after Barcelona's deal to sign the "new Lionel Messi", Alen Halilovic was put in doubt by yesterday's 14-month transfer ban.
Barcelona looked to have agreed a deal last month with Dinamo Zagreb for 17-year-old Croatian Halilovic, but it is uncertain if the move will be completed this summer following the ban. United and City could now join the chase, along with other leading European clubs, to land the teenager.
Exactly what Barca's transfer ban means for Halilovic and Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who also agreed a recent move to the Camp Nou, is yet to become clear. Sky Sports' La Liga expert Guillem Balague revealed the future of both players remains in doubt during an interview with talkSPORT:
They were only going to officially sign and get the 'Barcelona license' from June 1. If Barcelona are banned then those players won’t be able to come. They need to recycle a few players and they won’t be able to do that.
Contrary to this, Jean Louis Dupont—Halilovic's lawyer—believes the deal will still go ahead, as reported by Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC:
Halilovic has been on the radar of Europe's elite since bursting into the Dinamo first-team at the age of 16. The creative midfielder was linked with a move to United, Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid back in August 2013, reported by Gary Jones of the Daily Star.
Chisanga Malata of the same publication suggested Chelsea and Arsenal were interested prior to Halilovic signing with Barca, confirming his status as one of the most sought-after youngsters in Europe. United and City's galvanised interest cannot become concrete until FIFA confirms the details of Barcelona's punishment, but there's no denying he would be an excellent signing for both English sides.
United are in need of fresh talent. David Moyes' team currently struggle with ageing legs in midfield and could use Halilovic's natural spark down the right. He is quick, flaunts excellent ball control and can pick out a pass, suggesting he would link well with Juan Mata if he was to head to Old Trafford.
City would aid his growth through an array of world-class players already at the club. Halilovic could learn plenty from David Silva, Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas, individuals who possess technical skills similar to those shown by the emerging talent.
Right now, Premier League interest stands for very little. Halilovic should be considered an FCB player until FIFA says otherwise.
Barcelona have endured a plethora of torrid moments in recent months—from Lionel Messi's tax evasion case to Neymar's transfer scandal—but losing out on such a talented individual would arguably rank alongside the worst.