A short stature, long hair and a left foot brimming with quality: when such a young man appears, comparisons with a certain Argentinian magician are inevitable. Among the various Mini harvest around the world, enough to fill an annual convention, few have justified this label, but one has disappointed more than any other…
Alen Halilovic’s first comparison was even with Luka Modric. This is understandable, given the nationality, the training club and, once again, the damn you Hair. Messi was only revealed in 2014 when Barcelona traveled to the Croatian capital to seek the young version of their biggest star, but the Dinamo Zagreb gem would end up playing just one game in Catalonia and now, eight years later, he is back. . in your home country.
“I wanted to go back to Croatia this year”
A few years ago, no one would have guessed that Halilovic could return to the Croatian League in the summer of 2022. At just 26, he was expected to be in his prime, already asserted in the squad Croatian national and as one of the great players in world football, but things did not turn out that way.
“I have been in contact with the club for a long time. I wanted to go back to Croatia this year. I’m happy to be here, I know the club and that’s why I decided to take this step.
The youngest of all time
He made his debut for the Croatian national team aged just 16, in a friendly match against Portugal (0-1). The record stands to this day.
It was made official at HNK Rijeka, ranked fourth in the last edition of Prva HNL, after another season of reduced impact. In 2021/22 he has played just 11 games for Reading in the English Premier League, last playing in January.
Halilovic has left statements that indicate this comeback is a personal desire rather than a professional need. Even so, he’s sure didn’t have many options left, as he’s already played in most major leagues and hasn’t missed them.
10 caps for Croatia, including 8 in a Getty/Mike Hewitt friendly match
A dozen clubs in eight years
In defense of this ambassador of wasted potential, Halilovic’s talent never enjoyed the stability it probably needed to flourish properly. Since leaving the birthplace of Dinamo at the age of 18, the creative has never played two consecutive seasons at the same club, reaching the tenth club in the last eight years.
The five million that took him to Barcelona did not guarantee him more than one opportunity with this shirt. Were 29 minutes of play in the Copa del Rey, before a loan to Sporting Gijón, in which Halilovic shone enough (5 goals and 5 assists) to guarantee Barcelona the same amount, during a transfer to HSV, from Germany.
59 minutes added for Milan AC Milan
In the Bundesliga, he only played six games, before returning to Spain on loan, and he never stood out again. Las Palmas, Milan, Standard Liege, Heerenveen, Birmingham City and Reading were the clubs that gambled on hearts as their signing became an increasingly sportingly reckless move, and no one benefited.
Almost a decade has passed since this creative left the Croatian League, to which he now returns. There, he knows what it is to shine and has everything to do it again, but there is always a small dose of risk associated with this transfer: if it is not now, it will never be for Halilovic.