Spanish champions Barcelona have signed 17-year-old Croatian midfielder Alen Halilovic from Dinamo Zagreb, the talented teenager confirmed on Friday.
“Now is the time for me to move on to Barcelona,” said Haliovic on Friday on Instagram. “Thanks, Dinamo Zagreb, for everything! My first club and my first love!” Barca have agreed to pay around €8 million ($10.9 million) for the left-footed youngster, according to Spanish media reports.
Halilovic is the youngest-ever goalscorer in the Croatian first division and also the youngest-ever debutant for the Croatian national team.
Halilovic, who has already been capped three times by Croatia, will play for Barca’s B team in the second division next season.
Robert Prosinecki, who played in La Liga for both Barcelona and Real Madrid, said: “Halilovic is, without doubt, one of the most talented young players in Europe, though he still has to work hard at his game. Barcelona signing him is great news for Croatian football.” The negotiations were carried out in Zagreb by Barca’s sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta and director of football Raul Sanllehi.
Real Madrid and Manchester United were reportedly also interested in the teenage prodigy.
Barcelona are already looking to next season with reports saying they will sign goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen from Borussia Moenchengladbach. He will replace veteran keeper Victor Valdes, who has decided not to extend his contract at the Catalan club.
Barca will also be looking for a younger defender to replace veteran captain Carles Puyol, who will be leaving the Camp Nou in summer after 16 seasons, according to daily paper Sport.
Midfielder Rafinha and winger Gerard Deulofeu will return to Barca after successful loan spells at Celta Vigo and Everton respectively.