It’s amazing to think that Bojan Krkić is only 23 years old. He burst on to the scene, making his Barcelona debut against Egyptian side Al-Ahly when he was just 16 and even scored in that game too.
However, after a promising start his career thus far hasn’t blossomed as he would have liked. Bojan has already played for the likes of Frank Rijkaard, Pep Guardiola, Luís Enrique, Massimiliano Allegri, Frank de Boer, and now Mark Hughes and has been at five different clubs already including Stoke City.
Unfortunately for Bojan, he has never truly found a proper soccer home and whilst the talent is there (he wouldn’t have been so sought after had he been average) no coach has managed to get the best out of him.
That said, Bojan’s life has been in the spotlight since he was 16 and the pressure to adapt to his fame and expectation was a heavy burden to bear. His situation was a little different to that of the average young star as he was touted for greatness and labeled the next Lionel Messi – that’s quite a weight to carry, especially at a club of Barcelona’s stature.
Initially, he seemed to thrive in his breakthrough year, making 48 appearances for Barcelona in the 2007/8 season and netting 12 times. Given his age and the size of the club, that’s nothing short of remarkable. It’s worth noting that in subsequent years Bojan has never played as many games as he did in his maiden season.
Things didn’t go quite as smoothly after that. When Bojan was first called up to the Spanish national squad he pulled out, reportedly after suffering from a panic attack. He later pulled out of the Spanish Euro 2008 squad claiming to be “physically and emotionally shattered”.
Reviewing the numbers, it could be argued that Bojan simply played too much soccer at too young an age. Bojan made his league debut for Barcelona at the age of 17 and in his first four seasons at the Camp Nou he made a total of 163 appearances. Compare this to Lionel Messi’s first four years as a Barcelona first team player. The Argentine made 110 appearances with the number of games played increasing with each passing season.
It has to be taken into account that Messi suffered from a number of injury problems in those initial years, ranging from a broken metatarsal to muscle tears. Messi’s initial injury woes may have been a blessing in disguise as it forced Barcelona to handle his career carefully and prevented the possibility of burnout. Bojan’s fitness on the other hand may have worked against him, strangely enough.