Barcelona manager Luis Enrique has said he is yet to make a decision on whether Alen Halilovic will return to the Nou Camp in the summer, ahead of the Catalans' game with Sporting Gijon on Saturday (23 April). The Spanish boss suggested that the 19-year-old star may not be ready for the challenge yet, pointing out that he still has much to improve having struggled for consistency during his loan spell with the Asturian side.
The La Liga leaders signed the forward in 2014 from Dinamo Zagreb as a hot prospect for the future after he was tipped as the next big thing to emerge from Croatia's youth system, receiving comparisons with the likes of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic. Following a season with Barcelona's second team, the club decided to send him on loan to Sporting during the last summer transfer window to give him some experience in the top flight.
The Croatian international proved to be one of the sensations of La Liga during his first months at the Asturian side. However, the Barcelona loanee has fallen out of favour, being restricted to a secondary role as a sub during the second part of the season.
However, his five goals and five assists in his debut to to-flight campaign have been enough to attract the interest of a number of clubs.
His agent, Zoran Stojadinovic, revealed earlier this month that Valencia had already approached him to express an interest in securing his services, while reports in Spain claim that Sevilla and Villarreal are also monitoring the situation.
Stojadinovic claimed that the youngster would like to return to Barcelona in the summer but added that in case that Luis Enrique considered it too soon for him to return to the Nou Camp, a move to Valencia would be welcome. He, nevertheless, added that the Catalans still has faith in his long-term future and will only let him go on loan, with his €35m (£27.3m, $ 39.3m) release clause complicating any deal on permanent basis.
Luis Enrique has now claimed that Barcelona are yet to make a decision over the future of the forward, but admitting he still has to improve.
"This is not a issue that I need to discuss right now," the manager responded when asked whether the Croatian will return to Barcelona in the summer." Halilovic started the season playing a lot of games, being an important player for Sporting, but he has not been in the starting line-ups in recent times. For sure he has many things to improve. But I repeat, that the decision over the loan will be discussed at the end of the season with the technical staff. Now is not the moment."
Sporting manager Abelardo, also admitted in an interview with Mundo Deportivo ahead of the visit to Barcelona that if the Catalans wanted to send the Croatian on loan again he would be welcomed back at his side.
"I would like him to come back but it is up to Luis Enrique and Barcelona. It does not depend on us," Abelardo said. "He has given us a plus during the game, which was our target. He is a player that is already in the developing process, with great technical skills, but he needs to be more intense."