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Black Cats hoping to pounce on Barcelona star Alen Halilovic

Premier League top 10 chances Sunderland (4/1) are reportedly looking to test Catalan giants Barcelona (5/6 odds-on favourites to win La Liga) by making an offer to sign young starlet Alen Halilovic on loan in January.

The tricky Croatian, yet another who has been dubbed the ‘new Lionel Messi’, was only signed by Barca in the summer from Dinamo Zagreb, but has been restricted to appearances in their B team in the Spanish Segunda Division.

Halilovic, 18, has played five times for the reserves this term but it seems the player wants regular senior side action.

It has been reported that the Black Cats would like to take the left-footed playmaker on a permanent deal, but Luis Enrique would be unwilling to let such a talent leave, especially as the club are under a transfer embargo for the next two windows.

Sunderland have started the season reasonably well, gaining eight points from seven games to put them in 13th place, but only a victory off the top four. Out on the wing, they currently have the likes of Adam Johnson, Ricky Alvarez and Emanuele Giaccherini but have lacked flair and creativity this campaign, having only netted eight times.

If Halilovic were to come to the northeast club in any capacity, Black Cats boss Gus Poyet will be hoping the player can rediscover his form for former side Zagreb, where he gained six goals in the 2013/14 season as a 17-year-old.

Poyet would have to battle with La Liga side Celta Vigo, though, for Halilovic, who has also been tracked by Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham in the past.

The teenager has already gained six caps for Croatia, making his debut at the age of 16 against Portugal to become the youngest ever dubutant for his country. He also featured in his side’s most recent Euro 2016 qualifier against Azerbaijan, who they thrashed 6-0.