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Hamburg must take the pressure off Halilovic, says Gisdol

New Hamburg head coach Markus Gisdol has backed Alen Halilovic to shine under his tutelage - providing he is afforded the necessary time and space.

Halilovic – dubbed the 'Balkan Messi' after coming through the ranks at Dinamo Zagreb and sealing a switch to Barca in 2014 – moved to Bundesliga club Hamburg after a fruitful loan spell at Sporting Gijon last term, but struggled for game-time under Gisdol's predecessor Bruno Labbadia.

But Gisdol, who oversaw the development of Roberto Firmino, Kevin Volland and Sebastian Rudy during his tenure at Hoffenheim, is confident he can get the best out of the 20-year-old.

"We will all do incredibly well if we take the pressure off Halilovic. The expectations of him are totally inappropriate. He is now very specifically set up by me," Gisdol told Sky.

"Alen needs the necessary space. We have to take the pressure off his shoulders. It must not be questions about him every week – is he in the squad or is he in the stands?

"It is important that we develop the players. That is not just in the short term."