Some players are destined to be great. From a young age they stand out head and shoulders above their peers. Fans know they have a genius amongst their academy, and they count down the years until they see the rough diamond explode onto the first team scene. The likes of Wayne Rooney, Jack Wilshere, Mario Balotelli and Neymar were hotly tipped to be superstars a few years before they even made their first team debuts; or since 13 in Neymar’s case, who apparently was subject to a €1 million bid from Real Madrid.
Bojan Krkic was the player the Culés were anticipating the most after the flattering reviews from his youth team days. Whether this fact is true is dubious, but reports state Bojan scored over 800 goals during his seven-year spell in La Masia. Forget Sergio Busquets, Pedro Rodriguez or Thiago Alcantara, this young striker whose father was an international for Serbia, was the prestigious talent who was destined for greatness.
At the age of 16 he was already in the B team, and made his unofficial debut for the senior side in a midseason friendly against Al-Ahly in April 2007 which resulted in him scoring, only whetting the fans appetite. The then Barca coach Frank Rijkaard could not wait any longer, and at the start of the 2007/08 season promoted him to the first team squad. His debut against Osasuna saw him become the youngest player to represent Barca (at 17 years and 19 days) since another prodigy broke onto the scene three years previously, one Leo Messi. His debut season saw him score 12 goals, not bad for a 17-year-old fighting for a spot in a front three consisting of Thierry Henry, Messi , Samuel Eto’o and an inadequate Ronaldinho.
There was a tug-of-war between Serbia and Spain to see who could persuade the forward to ally with them, and Bojan made his wishes clear by rejected a call-up from Serbia coach Raddy Antic. The European Championship in Austria/Switzerland in 2008 was Spain’s first major International competition victory in over 40 years, and Bojan could have been part of it, had he not requested to coach Luis Aragones if he could be omitted due to fatigue. He would make his Spain debut after the tournament in September against Armenia, under new National team coach Vicente Del Bosque, but since then has failed to add to his solitary appearance.
The major query that the expectant Barcelona fans put forward to Bojan is does he have the mentality to fulfil his potential? Here we have a classic case of a confidence player. Without confidence he is not half the player he could be, and at the moment we are seeing this. Although it is not ideal for him being played on the left by Pep Guardiola, the manager is reluctant to play Bojan through the centre when his finishing, an attribute consistently used to success for him as a junior, is questionable at this moment in time.
To date his best period of form occurred at the tail end of the 2009/10 campaign, where he scored 7 goals in his last 8 league games, including a brace against Athletic Bilbao. By being given the number 9 shirt vacated by Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the start of this season, it showed the confidence the club had in the player from Lleida, but thus far he has not found any meaningful form and has only scored four goals in 28 games.
The question is what now for Bojan? The fans seem united in the opinion a loan spell would be good. It would be an opportunity for consistent football, and maybe ignite a renaissance for him as a centre forward. Guardiola has been supportive as ever “I will not stop until I make him a better player.” He signed a contract extension last summer until 2015, so his future is at Barca, but he needs to show signs that he is good enough to prevent the club looking in the market to bolster the attacking options. It has also been said the Spaniard may be used a leeway in a deal to bring Cesc Fabregas back to the Camp Nou, and with Arsene Wenger’s vast experience in nurturing young talents, it may even be a good option for both parties.
The reality may be that with the high expectation, and being promoted through La Masia rapidly, perhaps he did not have the chance to progress in a more subtle, progressive way, such as his more successful teammates Busquets and Pedro. We have to remember Bojan is still only 20-years-old, and despite his indifferent start to his professional career, still has the chance to forge a triumphant career for himself. The worry for Spanish fans is that Bojan may be this promising prodigy, but he later develops into a disappointment like Javier Portillo.