Tactical Insights

Former Barcelona prodigy admits huge mistake in Camp Nou exit

Former Barcelona starlet Alen Halilovic has revealed leaving the club in 2016 was the biggest mistake of his career.

Halilovic was plucked from boyhood club Dinamo Zagreb in 2014, shortly after his 18th birthday, after bursting onto the scene in Croatia.

The skilful midfielder was tipped for a bright future and an ideal fit into Luis Enrique’s long term midfield plans if his progression continued.

Arriving at the start of a campaign where Barcelona went on to win a treble meant Halilovic remained with the B team for the 2014/15 season.

He accepted a season long loan move to Sporting Gijon for the following campaign in an effort to build up his La Liga experience.

However, after returning to Barcelona, he took a chance on joining Bundesliga side Hamburg, with his first team opportunities still limited in Catalonia.

That switch started a nomadic tour across Europe for Haliliovic as he struggled for regular game time and his injury issues began to increase.

Spells in Spain, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and the second tier in England followed, before joining Dutch side Fortuna Sittard at the start of the 2023/24 season.

From a highly rated teen star, to a veteran that has struggled, Halilovic believes his Barcelona exit changed everything in his career.

“I wanted to show I could play like Modric or Messi, but football doesn’t work like that. To boys at 16 or 17 years old, who experience something similar, I’d advise them to focus on enjoying playing football”, as per an interview with Marca.

“Barca, because of their style, was the only club where I thought I could make the leap as a footballer.

“I should have listened to Barca, and stayed on loan in La Liga. However, I felt I was ready to play for the first team and decided to go abroad. If I could change one thing in my career, it would be to have continued in Spain.”

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