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Roma Tracking Hamburg Midfielder Alen Halilovic

He’s awfully young, but awfully intriguing

Hamburger SV - Training Session Photo by Oliver Hardt/Bongarts/Getty Images

Here we go, a new week and a new set of rumors. Who am I kidding, rumors are generated on an hourly basis, but today we’ll hone in on one. While Roma may have reached personal terms with Sofiane Feghouli, the actual negotiation part of the equation, you know the one with the club that owns his rights, isn’t going too well, as West Ham are apparently hesitant to knock a few million off his final price. This has, naturally, led Roma to see other alternatives.

The next name down Roma’s shopping list appears to be Hamburg midfielder Alen Halilovic, a 20-year-old Croatian who, though he spent some time with Barcelona’s youth teams, never made his Camp Nou debut, instead spending the 2015-2016 season on loan with Sporting Gijon.

After making over 30 appearances for Gijon, Halilovic signed with Hamburg for €5.5 million, though Barcelona holds a €10 million buyback option. Since making the switch to the Bundesliga, the young Croat has made seven appearances in all competitions, registering one goal while playing largely as an attacking midfielder.

Now, I won’t pretend to be an expert on the kid, and, yes, that is a highlight video, but he appears as nimble as the day is long and has a pretty clever left foot, something that always puts an attacker at an advantage. Furthermore, he is reportedly capable of playing on either wing, another desirable trait, particularly for a player so young.

Which, of course, begs the question: Why him? Why now?

While Halilovic appears to be a hell of a talent, he’s one that has struggled to gain a foothold with any senior club, let alone one with faint murmurs of a title hope like Roma, so were this move to come to fruition, we couldn’t view it as anything other than a long-term play. However, given the dearth of advanced/attacking midfielders coming through the ranks, he could be a solid addition to Roma’s youth setup, depending on the cost of course. So while he is being packaged as a short-term replacement for Salah, don’t buy that; this one is all about potential.

Just what it might take to get him, and why Hamburg would want to sell him only six months or so after acquiring him, is anyone’s guess, but with Barcelona holding a €10 million option, one can safely assume that would be the starting point in any negotiation.

Still, Halilovic seems like an intriguing prospect, and certainly one to get excited about in the future, but in the short run, this move makes little sense.