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Barca may lose out on young duo following transfer ban

The transfers of Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Alen Halilovic to Barcelona are in doubt because FIFA have slapped a signing ban on the Catalan giants for the next two transfer windows.

La Liga favourites Barca (8/11) had only recently agreed to sign 17-year-old Dynamo Zagreb midfielder Halilovic, another player dubbed the “new Lionel Messi”, in a £1.8m initial deal, but the embargo will mean the Croatian in particular will be subject to interest from across Europe.

Spanish football expert Guillem Balague said on the subject: “Barcelona’s deals for [Borussia Monchengladbach goalkeeper] Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Alen Halilovic are already done. It’s a question of what’s going to happen.

“They were only going to officially sign and get the ‘Barcelona license’ from June 1st. If Barcelona are banned then those players won’t be able to come. They need to recycle a few players and they won’t be able to do that.

However, he added: “They’re going to appeal. They have ninety days to do that. If they slow things down and appeal they may still be able to do things in the summer.”

Manchester rivals United and City (Premier League favourites at 5/6) were rumoured suitors for Halilovic, and will circle like vultures ready to swoop if the Catalan giants’ appeal is unsuccessful.

Three-capped intentional Halilovic is only in his second season with Zagreb’s senior setup, but has already featured in 39 league games, scoring five and getting two assists. He is the current youngest ever goalscorer and debutant in the Croatian top-flight and national side respectively, at the age of 16.

The possible failed move for Halilovic is unlikely to worry Barca as much as the Ter Stegen deal, however. Long-term servant Victor Valdes is out of contract and has announced his desire to leave the club, he has played in the first team for since 2002, at the end of the season.

Germany international Ter Stegen, 21, is one of the most highly-rated young stoppers in the world. The Monchengladbach player, who also has three international caps, has been a regular for his club for the past three years, and Barca reckon he is ready to replace the currently injured Valdes.

Both Ter Stegen and Halilovic are hopeful of reaching their respective country’s World Cup squads. Germany are tournament third-favourites at 11/2, while Croatia chances are priced at 125/1.