Alen Halilovic will be signing for the Catalan giants in June after being linked with a host of top clubs, including Spurs, but instead of turning out in La Liga, the young Croatian looks set to learn the Barca way for their B team in Liga Adelante, the Spanish second division.
After a reported €10 million deal was agreed between Barcelona and Dinamo Zagreb, much to the disappointment of the White Hart Lane outfit and fellow suitors Manchester United, Barca boss Gerardo Martino touched on the club's pursuit of, and plans for the youngster.
"These negotiations started in 2010," said the Argentine. "He is coming here to play for the B team."
Given that Halilovic is likely to gradually come into a Barcelona midfield already full of talent, it is worth asking whether a move to Tottenham or United, both teams looking for outstanding attacking midfielders to come into their team sooner rather than later, would have been better in the short term.
Spurs have missed the deeper lying creativity Modric offered since he moved to Real Madrid, while United are crying out for that kind of player, and have been since Paul Scholes' original retirement.
As it stands, the diminutive Croat will go and be schooled in the less pressurised environment of the Barca B team, with the potential to emerge within a year or two as a possible replacement for Xavi.
This may impact his international ambitions in the near future, but there are few better places for promising players to become great than Barcelona.
Compared to Messi because of his outstanding pace, close control, and wizard of a left foot, Halilovic is the youngest player to ever play for his country, and to have scored in the Croatian top flight. This year he has featured 27 times already and scored 3 goals.
image: © borkur.net