At about 12 years ago, Bojan Krkic was popularly called as the next Lionel Messi in Barcelona; Bojan came to the surface after three years of the appearance of Lionel Messi in 2004. His height, playing style, and position are all the same, so no one can avoid the comparison between the two.
Bojan has skills, dribbles, and playing skills that are above the average of his age players. At the age of 15, Bojan became the top scorer of the 2006 Under-17 European Championship and a year later, he scored the decisive goal that put the Spanish national team won in the same tournament.
Right on September 16, 2007, the football public witnessed the appearance of this 17-year-old boy owned by Barcelona. Bojan, who had the chance to debut in the Barcelona senior team against Osasuna, appeared as a substitute for Giovani Dos Santos in the 78th minute.
This debut occurred after seven years of training at Barcelona’s junior team, La Masia. It is not without any reason that Barcelona coach at the time, Frank Rijkaard, dared to let Bojan who was still very young, play on the match. Bojan had scored 900 goals while playing in the junior team so that the Dutchman coach was sure enough to give him his trust.
His ability to play with the ball has made many people surprised and amazed. Bojan’s debut at the age of 17 years 19 days was at once broke Lionel Messi’s debut record with Barcelona in 2004 which was 17 years 114 days.
Bojan’s name was getting skyrocketed several months later when his strike against Manuel Neuer was the determinant goal for El Barca’s victory over Schalke in the Champions League quarterfinal first round.
In his breakthrough season of 2007/08, Bojan was able to score 12 goals and 6 assists from 48 matches in all competitions, with 10 of them were created in the Spanish La Liga.
As he got many opportunities to play in the first team, the attention to Bojan was getting bigger. Both during his performance and in his social life. Unfortunately, Bojan failed to cope with the pressure that came. He also complained as he felt that his youth life was so different from his peers.
“Every night, I might not even walk out of the house. I also can’t come to a friend’s birthday party or go to the movies,” he said. (Quoted from Goal)
The pressure off the pitch that Bojan struggled with was increasingly heavier when he was hit by such harsh criticism. The harsh criticism began when he refused the call of Luis Aragones to strengthen Spain in the European Cup 2008.
Bojan had his own reasons for not taking part in the Spanish national team who later came out as champions. Bojan told Luis Aragones that he was exhausted before the 2008 European Cup.
“I know what I missed but I have reached a point where I am very tired,” said Bojan at the time (Quoted from Bleacherreport)
“I never said ‘no’ to the Spanish team. On the other hand, I want to be honest with the manager, the Federation of [Spanish Football] and with myself. “
The 2007/2008 season is a bad memory for Barcelona with Rijkaard. The season was closed with an achievement without a trophy. There is no place for such a failure in a club as big as Barcelona. Consequently, he must leave his position as a coach.
Rijkaard’s departure from the Camp Nou hot seat was said to be the reason for Bojan’s slump career, as the Dutchman coach used to be put his full confidence in him. Rijkaard is one of the coaches who admires Bojan’s talent. Even Rijkaard once said that Bojan was a football treasure.
Bojan also claimed that his relationship with Rijkaard was also very good. He had never had special cooperation with other people.
“It was a difficult year when he left, but he has a great personality. I have a relationship with him that I have never had with anyone else.” Said Bojan (Quoted from Bleachereport)
In the following seasons, Bojan’s performance was not as attractive as what the media and football celebrities used to have revealed. Problems started to raise when the new Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola, asked Bojan to level down to Barcelona B for a while.
Whereas, Bojan felt that he had already played enough at the second level and was ready to continue playing in the first team. His attitude made Guardiola unwillingly giving him playing opportunities which followed by a more limited chance to play. Especially at that time, Barcelona had great players in the line of attackers.
Under Guardiola’s direction, in the 2008/09 season, Bojan made 42 appearances and scored 10 goals. Among those many appearances, 23 of them were at the La Liga event. Then, in his third season, Bojan returned to play 23 times in La Liga.
Together with Guardiola, Barcelona did manage to dominate Europe and the world with so many trophies. But it was at Barca’s golden moment that Bojan started to sinking and finally decided to leave in the summer of 2011. His unharmonious relationship with Guardiola was seen as the reason why Bojan left.
“Guardiola is the best coach in the world, but the personal things between him and me are really painful. He continuously acted unfairly to me and that was one of the reasons I left, “said Bojan.
Bojan then traveled to Italy to defend AS Roma. Moving to the capital’s wolf seemed to be the right choice for Bojan because ex Blaugrana, Luis Enrique, became the coach and gave him guarantees of regular play.
In fact, Bojan experienced performance inconsistencies in Italy. Bojan was then loaned to AC Milan, repatriated again to Barcelona, then loaned again to Ajax Amsterdam, before finally being transferred by Barca for the second time to Stoke City in 2014.
Even when he moved to Italy in 2011, the nickname of “new Messi” still belonged to Bojan. According to him, being the next Messi is not easy. The reason is, the Argentine player continued to score goals, while he did not always do that.
The story of Bojan’s career downfall is indeed very popular. Getting expected to become the world’s top player in Barcelona, Bojan slumped and had to move to several clubs just to look for regular playing time. After Stoke City, Bojan played for Mainz and Alaves as a loan.
Now, the charm of Bojan is not as attractive as a decade ago. His name might only leave an impression in the memory of football lovers in the 2008, 2009 or 2010 era.
But, Bojan is not entirely worth mentioning as a failed wonder-kid. He might still have a chance of a career in Europe’s top leagues, scoring goals, and earning a salary. Bojan, in the end, was just a normal footballer, as he had said himself.