With the transfer rumours surrounding FC Barcelona as rampant as ever this summer, and cules endlessly debating the various reasons/costs/arguments for players to either come or go from our beloved club, we’ve decided to introduce a new series here on totalBarça: The Debate. In each part, two of our writers will square off, one in favour and the other against a particular player being in the club’s plans for next season. First up is current FC Barcelona striker Bojan Krkic, who has already been linked with moves this summer around Europe.
So, should he stay or should he go? Read on to find out what we think.
Why Bojan should stay – Maria Ines
Bojan Krkic joined Barça’s youth system when he was 9 years old. Eight years later, he made his debut in a season where everything looked dark after two really good years. Bojan played his first game for Barça’s first team in 2007, just about a month after his 17th birthday. I bring this up since it seems he has been around for quite a while, even though he is still only 20 years old.
His debut was not easy: Rijkaard’s team was on the verge of fading away, as it eventually did. Bojan had to fill in a space and consequently he has been subject to exaggerated expectation and responsibilities ever since, given his young age.
From that time to now, things have changed for Barça. And so they have for Bojan. Some people say he doesn’t have the quality to play for Barça, but some of us think he has not been given enough opportunities. While it’s hard to criticize our manager, I do believe he could give more minutes to Bojan, who seems to be confused and desperate every time he gets a few minutes to show his talent.
Despite his recent form for Barça, I do think we can expect much more of him.
First of all, he’s still young. If we think of other canteranos, they made an impact when they were 23 or 24 years old.
Secondly, he has a quality that is rare to find in La Masia: his ability to shoot the ball into the net. Passing is one thing, shooting hard is a quality that only real central strikers have. He is quite different to any of La Masia’s other products in that regard. In some ways, I see some of Raul (yes, the historic Madrid player) in him, in his ability to see an opportunity and just put the ball into the net.
The third point is that our squad is still short of players and even when our forward line seems to be reinforced this year (with the new players coming in), the team will face tough challenges in the following months to come.
I think that his football makes a difference to Barça’s forward line. And he will prove it again, as he did in the final games of the 2009/2010 season, when his goals were pretty important for Barça to secure another La Liga title. In my opinion, the only thing he needs to improve his game is confidence.
Bojan’s history at Barça is not finished yet, and it shouldn’t be because we need to cash in. He is following the difficult path of fighting for his place in the team, a fight that all our canteranos have fought in the past, some of them with more success than others. He has had offers but he had chosen to stay. Is that the message that canteranos will receive? “You won’t get too many opportunities so you have to leave?” He should be allowed to stay and fight for his place.
Bye Bye Bojan! – Stevenson
Bojan Krkic, in many ways, typifies the homegrown talent that Barcelona is famous for incubating: he’s from Catalonia, he’s a product of La Masia, he literally bleeds for the club, and, of course, he’s a midget. When he was promoted to the first team three years ago, after a meteoric rise through the youth ranks, many saw him as a future star of the squad, and for Spain. But football can be a cruel sport, and this ideal future has never materialized. I’ll go one step further on the cruelty front: Bojan Krkic needs to leave FC Barcelona. But I’m going to convince you that this is a move that will be for his own good.
There’s a reason that football pundits were excited about Bojan Krkic. In his seven years in the Barcelona youth program he scored almost 1,000 goals; he had an equally amazing record in the Spanish youth team where he won the U17 European championship in 2007, and the bronze ball in the U17 World Cup in the same year. When he was promoted to Barcelona’s first team at the age of 17, he became the youngest player to see time in a Champions League match.
But 17 has now become 20, and the pressure of playing for a top club like Barcelona, and the sheer weight of expectation seem to have gotten the better of Krkic. A striker’s worth is ultimately measured in goals; have a look at these numbers from the league:
- 2010/11: 27 games, 6 goals
- 2009/10: 23 games, 8 goals
- 2008/09: 23 games, 2 goals
A crisis of confidence
Krkic’s less-than compelling numbers only tell part of the story. Football is certainly a physical sport, but a player’s performance can have as much to to do with the mind as the legs. There’s no doubt in my mind that the emergence of Pedro, the arrival of David Villa, and the recent purchase of Ibrahim Afellay have all contributed to a crisis of confidence that will hold Krkic back for as long as he remains with Barcelona. This season, arguably the player’s worst for the team, Bojan only started nine league games for his club, one of them being the 0-2 defeat to Hercules.
Let’s face it: Bojan has been relegated to a bit role in the squad: how many times this season did we see him enter a match after the 80th minute? How many truly sparkling performances did he produce? In how many matches has he appeared confused and disjointed in his play? How many times did you groan when you realized that he was our only impact sub in a game when we needed to score?
Brian Phillips, writing in his blog The Run of Play, summed up Krkic’s evolution as a player: “Now he’s 20, and as far as I can tell he’s made virtually no progress in the intervening three seasons. His left foot is a little better, maybe, but his brain seems to be worse: When he’s not on the ball, he looks aimless. Back in ’07, it seemed like he had skills you couldn’t learn and would only improve in the ones you could. Now it seems like his instincts have eroded and his technique hasn’t really gotten better.”
The perfect loan deal
Bojan Krkic needs to play in order to excel as a footballer, and to surmount the mental barriers that are holding him back. Only by succeeding at another club will he get through this difficult period, and perhaps one day rejoin his Barcelona teammates.
At this point there are two likely destinations for the player: a loan to another Liga squad, or an outright sale to a team in another league. Earlier this summer, a loan deal with Betis was looking likely; that was an option that would have afforded Krkic the relative comfort of staying in Spain, playing in a league that he was familiar with, and guaranteeing him a return to the squad. But for some reason this option seems to have evaporated.
Momentum is now gathering for a move abroad to Roma, where Bojan would partner with former Barcelona star Luis Enrique in his new coaching venture. The Barcelona board is trying to negotiate a buy-back option [cost + 20%] into the deal, but the details are somewhat murky at this point.
Whatever the destination my advice for the player is unequivocal: Be brave Bojan! Leave now so that you may return in triumph!
Now it’s your turn. What do you think would be best for the club to do this summer regarding Bojan? What would be best for Bojan himself? Have your say in the comments.