Barcelona have confirmed the signing of Croatian teenage sensation Alen Halilovic from Dinamo Zagreb on an initial €2.2m (£1.8m) deal.
Halilovic has attracted attention from Europe’s top clubs but Barcelona have beaten off competition from the likes of Manchester City to complete the deal and make an announcement on Thursday.
The Dinamo academy product will head to the Nou Camp on a five-year deal, with the agreed fee set to increase based on bonuses regarding his performance in the years to come. The attacking midfielder was left speechless by the move, and while he left his beloved Dinamo with a heavy heart, Halilovic couldn’t contain his excitement at playing for the reigning La Liga champions.
“It's difficult to find the words to describe how I feel,” Halilovic said when speaking to Barcelona's official website. “Many thanks to Dinamo, who will always remain with me as my first love and as the club where I first began to realise my dreams.
“I want to thank all the coaches at the Dinamo academy, and all the supporters.
“Of course, Barcelona is something special. It's the club I've loved since I was a boy and I feel honoured to have the opportunity to play for them.
“First of all, I want to win the double with Dinamo, and then concern myself with my new club.”
Halilovic will complete the season with the Croatian side before heading to Spain, where he will link up with the player he has been nicknamed after, Lionel Messi. Dubbed the ‘Balkan Messi’ by Dinamo supporters, Halilovic will have a long way to go if he is to live up to the expectation that has already built-up over his future.
He made his international debut last season for Croatia to become their youngest ever player, having already set new records for the youngest ever goalscorers in the Croatian top flight and making his Champions League debut against FC Porto.