Alen Halilovic: Scout Report

Halilovic in action

Alen Halilović is a Croatian footballer, who plays as an attacking midfielder for Dinamo Zagreb in the Prva HNL and Croatia U-17. Halilovic is both the youngest player who has ever played in the Croatian Prva HNL and the first division youngest ever goalscorer. Alen Halilovic is considered one of the greatest and most impressive youth talents in European football.

Profile

Alen Halilović was born on the 18th of June, 1996 (16 years old) in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Dubrovnik is one of the world’s most beautiful cities and is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites/cities. Having been there myself, I can’t put it into words how gorgeous Dubrovnik is. Alen Halilovic  is the son of former Bosnian international Sejad Halilović, who was born in Klokotnica, Bosnia and Herzegovina (a town only a few miles away from my hometown).

Talent Radar Accolades:

Halilović started his career playing at youth level for Dinamo Zagreb. In June 2012, he signed a professional contract with Dinamo. On 27 September 2012, he made his debut for the first team in an “Eternal derby” 3–1 win over Hajduk Split, when he replaced Sammir for the final ten minutes of the match. This made him the youngest debutant in the history of Dinamo Zagreb, at the age of 16 years and 101 days (5945 days). In the next round match against Slaven Belupo, he again came off the bench and scored the final goal in a 4–1 victory. This made him the youngest goalscorer in the history of the league, at the age of 16 years and 112 days, breaking the record set in November 2010 by his teammate Mateo Kovačić.

Alen Halilovic was asked about his goal following the match :

Osjećam se odlično. Vidjelo se koliko smo bili motivirani za ovu utakmicu, dominirali smo svih 90 minuta, nizali prilike i bili puno bolja momčad. Pogodak? Lijepo mi je sjela.

I feel great. It was seen how we were motivated for this match, we dominated for 90 minutes and the number of opportunities and we were the better team. The goal? It fell to me well.

In November 2012, he scored his second league goal for Dinamo in a 5-0 win against NK Zadar, scoring a beauty from outside of the box on an assist provided by Mateo Kovačić. In his first professional season with Dinamo he also managed to participate in UEFA Champions League. On 24 October 2012, he made his European bow in the 90th minute of the encounter against French giants Paris Saint-Germain in the Maksimir Stadium, coming on as a substitute for fellow teenager Mateo Kovačić. Thus he became the club’s youngest ever player to feature in a Champions League match, and second youngest player in the history of UEFA Champions League. By the end of the European season, he made two more appearance in CL, coming on as a substitute in away matches against Paris Saint-Germain and FC Porto.

When asked about his European debut and future appearances in Europe, Halilović said :

Ne znam hoću li sada igrati duže od nekoliko minuta koliko sam dobio u Zagrebu. Ovisit će o rezultatu.

I do not know if I will now play for longer than a few minutes that I got in Zagreb. It will depend on the outcome.

So far this season, Halilović has 2 goals in 16 total appearances (Europe and League).

Halilovic featured in our list of 100 Best Young Players to Watch in 2016.

Style, Strengths and Weaknesses

If you were glancing upon Halilovic for the first time, you could be forgiven for thinking you were looking at a young Luka Modric doppleganger. Both possess the wavy hair, short stature and immense quality with a football at their feet, and both even have similar playing styles. Like Modric, Halilovic has begun his so far short career at Dinamo Zagreb, coming through its famed youth production line. Unlike Modric, who Halilovic has been compared to with ‘The Next…’ title, Halilovic possesses a deadly left foot that is both skillful and capable of a powerful, yet accurate shots. Thus far in eleven appearances in the 2012/2013 season, Halilovic has scored twice but started only four times in those eleven appearances, with the other seven coming from the substitute’s bench.

It is hard to forget at times that he is only seventeen this year, such is his confidence and attacking prowess when going forward that he displays no fear to his opposition numbers. Additionally like Modric, Halilovic can play out wide as a winger, but unlike Modric it is his preferred position. At this stage in his early career, this could be due to his stature, with his coaching staff perhaps preferring to develop him out wide where he has time and space to think more so than in central or attacking midfield where the challenges can come in slightly quicker, so don’t rule out an attacking positional change for Halilovic in the future as he grows both physically and mentally. His ability to play a pass is good for an attacker, but his strength undoubtedly lies in his quick feet, confidence to go one-on-one and his eye for goal, with his ability for a ‘golazo’.

Transfer Situation

Manchester United, Manchester City and Real Madrid are said to be most interested in the young Croatian.

United :

Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson could be about to trump Man City boss Roberto Mancini by signing two of his top targets. United Chief Executive David Gill flew to Croatia this week for talks about signing £15m-rated Alen Halilovic, 16, and he also enquired about 20-year-old right-back Sime Vrsaljko.

City :

Manchester City are prepared to spend £7m to sign 16-year-old attacking midfielder Alen Halilovic, widely regarded as the best in the world of his age, from Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb.

Real Madrid :

Real Madrid are pushing for the signature of teenage Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Alen Halilovic. The Croatian, 16, is already being compared to Luka Modric – who was a United target before moving from Tottenham to the La Liga giants.

Besides a position club move, Halilović has an international dilemma, whether to play for his native Croatia or play for the country where his whole family is from and the same country that his father played for (Bosnia and Herzegovina). The efforts to get Halilović into the Bosnian side is huge with the Bosnian football media reporting on everything Halilović related. Bosnian U21 manager Vlado Jagodić had called Halilović up for the Bosnian U21 games, but nothing happened. Halilović does currently play for the Croatian U17 side, but he could still switch the Bosnian national football team. His father, Sejad Halilović, also played for Croatia’s U17 side, but later switched to the Bosnian national football team making 15 appearances. The fight for Halilovic is very serious on the international stage and it could be on the club stage as well should Halilović continue to impress.

This piece was written by Ervin Krantic. Follow him on twitter @ImhotepDF

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