Bojan has left FC Barcelona and is on his way to play for AS Roma in Serie A for €10 million.
It definitely begs the question: where did it go south for the player that at one time was considered to be even better than Messi?
I invite you to travel back to late 2007 so we can unravel the now mythical history of Bojan Krkic.
The 2006/07 season was in play and Messi was already a big part of the team. Barcelona faithful, however were already looking for the next great Blaugrana youth talent.
There were rumors of a kid that had broken every possible record in every youth category at Barça: Bojan Krkic. He was of Serbian descent and his goalscoring talents seemed limitless. Having witnessed Messi's quick and steady rise into the first team at such a young age, press and fans alike thought it would be easy for the player who broke Messi's records to do exactly the same. They would eventually be proved wrong.
Bojan was moved to the first team the following season, and at 17 years and 19 days on September the 16th, 2006, he broke Messi's record for the youngest player ever to play a league game for Barça. Three days later he broke the same record, this time on Champions League turf. He finished that season scoring 12 goals, which were the best ever for a first season debutant.
One would have expected his goal tally to improve, but he scored 10, 12 and 7 the following season, never playing well enough to break into the first team. Bojan scored 41 goals for Barcelona in total, and his goal average as a pro was one score every 178 minutes (almost 1 every two full games played) when he was touted as scoring over 900 for Barça youth teams in five years.
After fours seasons of under-performing while being massively overrated, the Catalan giants have finally decided to let him go.
Still the question lingers: why didn't he pan out? Was it that he wasn't awarded minutes? Was it that he didn't score enough goals? Was it a bad relationship with teammates? Was he unfairly compared to Messi? Or was it that his talents as a youth player didn't translate to the pro level?
Although all of the above might be true to a certain extent, I find the latter one to be more convincing.
Simply put: Bojan doesn't have the physique to play pro football. He gets tackled off the ball easily and, plainly put, I've just never seen him fight his way onto a ball with a defender and come out victorious. Defenders just bully him all day long, and Bojan can't do nothing about it. This simply didn't happen to him at youth levels, where defenders had the same size he had.
This isn't all his fault, of course. The time he should have spent on the B team getting fit to be a pro, he instead spent on the First Team, where everyone thought he was ready (he wasn't). It was bad judgement by everybody: the club, the coaches, the press, the fans, but most of all, by himself. He just wasn't ready (and still isn't if Spain's U21 side is a good measuring stick).
Bojan now leaves to a league that is way more physical than the Spanish one, and while I don't think he'll make it, i certainly wish him the best.
At least from the Barça side of things, I know they learned the lesson: there's only one Messi. And they've taken a cautious approach bringing up two hot young talents from La Masía: Thiago Alcántara and Sergi Roberto.
I'm not so sure Luis Enrique and Bojan know what they're doing, though.
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