Alen Halilovic is close to realizing a dream. At least a part of it.
The Croatian midfielder, one of Barcelona's most promising players, will visit his cub with Sporting Gijón this Saturday, which will be his first ever professional match at Camp Nou, a stadium where the 19-year-old is bound to shine in the near future.
Halilovic had a very impressive campaign on loan. He came in with a humble expectation to play a few matches to help his development, but he then became Gijón's star, the one bright spot in a season set to end with relegation to the Second Division.
Despite a very good debut season in La Liga, Halilovic still has to wait another season to be a Blaugrana. Coach Luis Enrique is impressed with Alen's development, but wants to see the player at a bigger club in Spain to find out if he can thrive and reach stardom in a team like Valencia or Sevilla, for instance (both teams are interested in the player).
A player of Alen's talent and potential could easily be confused by offers from European giants -- the Premier League is all over him, with Manchester United and Manchester City prepared to launch summer bids --, but the kid is very focused on his future.
Halilovic's agent, Zoran Stojadinovic, spoke to Spanish radio about the player's first season in the league, his decision not to leave La Liga and the dream of playing at Barça, even if that means being a reserve.
"Robert Fernandez is very happy with the player and his progression. Due to his situation, his evolution, his improvement and his contribution, [Robert] feels that the loan have been positive. If we were told before he joined Sporting Gijon that he would play around 30 matches, we would have signed really quickly.
"If you ask me for my opinion, I prefer that Halilovic becomes Barca's 12th man than a starter at another club.
"Especially because he is a young player who will play minutes, but we will have to see Barcelona's opinion. We chose Barcelona because he wanted to be a Barça player and if he has the chance to stay - regardless how much money Manchester City and Manchester United come with - he will stay for much less.
"If Barcelona choose to loan him again, we would prefer him to stay in Spain. For him, La Liga is better than Premier League."
Stojadinovic, source: Diario Sport
Alen Halilovic is special. Not only as a footballer. The kid as a bright future in Blaugrana colors.