There’s no doubting that first team football aids the development of a young player; those who play top level football at an early age generally go on to become stars – look at the likes of Wayne Rooney, Raul and Lionel Messi as examples of that. Breaking into a big team’s first team is no small feat though and it’s one that is still proving difficult for Bojan Krkic, the boy tipped as Spain’s next big thing a few years ago. Bojan is still just 19 and his career is yet to play out but his development appears to have stagnated over the past couple of years and questions as to whether he’ll ever become Barcelona’s first choice striker must be asked.
Getting ahead of Samuel Eto’o in the pecking order wasn’t going to happen and nor is it going to happen with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as Bojan’s competition, leaving Bojan as a backup at the Camp Nou. This is a respectable role to have but sitting on the bench a lot and making cameo appearances isn’t going to make Bojan a world beater any time soon. Barcelona previously offered Bojan the chance to go out on loan but he rejected the idea, choosing instead to stay and fight for a place in Pep Guardiola’s first team. Playing for his boyhood team is a dream for Bojan but his development would certainly have been aided by being a regular starter for a smaller team in the league. After all, had he scored a lot of goals for a different Liga BBVA team then he could’ve returned to Barcelona with an increased chance of making the first team as a proven goalscorer.
Instead he has to wait until Ibrahimovic is either rested or injured and even then Thierry Henry threatens to be given the role ahead of him. Bojan’s breakthrough season made him look a top talent but it’s notable that he has been making less appearances per season since his debut season and has not improved much as a player as a result of his lack of playing time. Bojan recently admitted he was disappointed by his lack of playing time, saying
“Obviously I’d like more playing time but I don’t expect to be a starter or anything like that. I appreciate the time I get on the pitch but there isn’t much of it.”
It is more than plausible to believe that Ibrahimovic will remain Barca’s first choice striker for a few years and then when he gets old what happens? Will Bojan be promoted to first choice ahead of Keirrison and anyone else Barca have signed by then? It’s unlikely given the fact that he’s spent most of his time sat on a bench. Going on loan would’ve been ideal for Bojan as he could’ve proven himself as a capable first choice striker and also tested himself regularly against top flight opponents. There would’ve been many suitors coming in for Bojan had he chosen to go out on loan with top flight teams from all over Europe willing to give one of Spain’s top talents a chance. It’s not too late for Bojan to try his luck on loan but he has wasted time being a reserve at Barca when he could’ve been playing regularly elsewhere. Ultimately Guardiola may eventually promote him to first choice for his patience and good performances when he has played, but a season full of goals for a different team could’ve shown the manager exactly what Bojan can do and drastically boosted his chances of becoming a starter.