MADRID, March 27 (Xinhua) -- FC Barcelona on Thursday confirmed the signing of 17-year-old Croatian international Alen Halilovic on a five-year contract.
Halilovic has cost an initial 2.2 million euros from Croatian side, Dinamo Zagreb, with extra payments to be made depending on incentives.
Halilovic became the youngest-ever Croatian to debut for their country when he appeared in a friendly game last June and is considered one of the big promises of the European game.
"I am delighted and it's difficult to find the words to describe how I feel," Halilovic said on the official FC Barcelona website, where he also thanked Dinamo, who he will remain with until the end of the season.
"Many thanks to Dinamo, who will always remain my first love and the club who made my dreams come true. Of course, Barcelona is something special, I've loved the club since I was small and I feel honoured to have the opportunity to play for Barca," he added.
Halilovic's initial contract is to play for the Barcelona B team, which currently plays in the Spanish second division (Liga Adelante), but he will almost certainly spend most of his time training with the first team squad.
Meanwhile Barcelona are still digesting the news that goalkeeper Victor Valdes will miss the rest of the season after breaking the cruciate ligament of his right knee during Wednesday's 3-0 home win against Celta Vigo.
Valdes will also miss the World Cup and will need six months to recover, a severe blow for the goalkeeper, who announced around 18 months ago that he was not going to renew his contract with the club and who will be a free agent at the end of the season.
The goalkeeper's agent, Gines Carvajal was in Barcelona on Thursday to discuss where he will undergo the operation he needs and it could be that he undergoes surgery in the same clinic in Germany, where Real Madrid striker Jese Rodriguez was operated on a week ago.
Barcelona have the option to sign a goalkeeper to cover for Valdes' loss, but coach Tata Martino has commented that is unlikely to happen and Jose Pinto will be in goal for Saturday's game away to local rivals Espanyol.