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Alen Halilović

Forgotten wunderkind Halilovic can be Milan's midfield spark

02:17 GMT+3 22/07/2018
Alen Halilovic AC Milan
Halilovic may have fallen off the radar but at Gattuso's Milan he may revive the hype that once surrounded him

AC Milan’s transfer activity this summer hasn’t really made headlines given their financial troubles. But then again recruiting the likes of Pepe Reina and Ivan Strinic on a free transfer wasn’t always going to bring much fanfare to the bedraggled outfit.

However there may be a cause for excitement in Milan’s third recruitment, Alen Halilovic who by the way also arrived on a free transfer.  Croatia’s strong World Cup campaign made the world sit up and take notice of the country.

Indeed the Vatreni’s talents were on full display as they propelled the team to their first ever World Cup final. Ivan Rakitic, Ante Rebic, Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic were all leading protagonists and very soon Halilovic could be following in his fellow countrymen’s shoes, should he develop his potential fully at the San Siro.

Dubbed as a wunderkind, the 22-year-old is the youngest ever debutant for the Croatian national team and is one of Europe’s promising talents.

Halilovic came through through the youth ranks at Dinamo Zagreb and came to the attention of clubs across Europe due to his precocious talent in midfield. He became Dinamo’s youngest ever player in 2012 at just 16 years and 101 days, before becoming their youngest ever goalscorer a few weeks later.

He would go on to establish himself with the Croatian giants and it wasn’t long before Barcelona came calling and despite the Catalan giant’s transfer ban they still forced the deal through, concerned about interest from other European sides.

Moreover Halilović bore all the traits of a typical Barcelona player; technically accomplished with accurate passing, quick off the mark and positionally flexibility, he was earmarked as a player with a first-team future. The future seemed bright for the young Croat but things began things got quickly pear-shaped in Spain.

His first season at the Camp Nou was unremarkable, playing for a B side which finished bottom of the Segunda Divisióon, with just one substitute appearance in the Copa Del Rey to his name. Chances were few and far between at Barca.  This would be followed up by a loan spell at Sporting Gijon before Hamburg signed him.

His time in Germany would also see him fall out of favour before securing a loan deal to La Liga side Las Palmas. It’s safe to say that Halilovic’s stock has fallen significantly and his career has gone off track.

Milan now represents an opportunity for him to start afresh. Still only 22 the Croat has time on his side but more importantly he can give Gennaro Gattuso’s midfield a much needed boost. Since the departure of Andre Pirlo, the Rossoneri have yet to possess a proper playmaker.

Halilovic could be the heir to Pirlo provided he is given the right environment by Gattuso to thrive. Moreover the former Dinamo player should fancy his chances of securing a place in Milan’s midfield, which badly needs a creative spark.

Lucas Biglia while experienced is already 32 and injury prone. Riccardo Montolivo has already been deemed surplus to requirements by Gattuso. Above all the stage is set for Halilovic to carve out a space for himself into the team. Should he be able to do that Milan might have the next Modric on their hands, however if things go awry they could see him slip from the very same hands that picked him in the first place.