Of Bumbling Banjos: The Krkic Kuestion

I’m not a huge bluegrass guy, so you’ll have to make do with that above, which features Steve Martin, who, by the way, can freakin’ play. I hate how he stole all the talent in the world. What a jerk. Get it? Anyway, that’s what I know about banjos other than the dueling version.

And, of course, the Crickets kind that we have coming out of our cantera. But what of him? What of his performances of late? Is there hope in the land of Serb-Catalan mini-men? Will our little bluegrass music maker grow big and strong or devolve into the cule Emperor of Lilliput? Low-heels only, folks! These questions are something most of readers on this site and all of the writers here have continually asked themselves for a while now.

For my part, I’ve put Bojan in the star-to-be category because he is 19 years old and full of promise. I’m not sure anyone is denying that he has talent or potential, but a lot of people are saying he needs to go somewhere else to develop. I do not understand why this is. He holds down a roster spot, yes, but he plays in the Copa and occasionally in the league, which I do not begrudge him because of the aforementioned talent and potential. What’s unfortunate is that his past includes being called up at the age of 16 to ensure that he stayed at the club for the foreseeable future. It’s not unfortunate that he’s staying, of course, but rather that at such a young age he was put under such immense pressure. I believe that that pressure is stunting his growth in a lot of ways or at the very least putting his natural development on show for everyone.

Many commenters here and around other parts of the internet have compared Bojan to Pedro! and ask why it is that P! can score in so many competitions, but Bojan cannot find regular playing time. There are several ways to think of this, but from my perspective the most important one is age. Pedro is 3 years and 1 month older than Bojan, which means 3 years and 1 month more development. To expect a 19-year old to play at the same level as a 22-year old is, in my opinion, ridiculous. When I was 19 I was beginning to understand the finer details of both Carlo Rossi and the fairer sex, not performing acts of magic in front of 98,000 screaming fans and millions more on TV.* Jeffren, in case you were wondering, is 21 for 13 more days (his birthday is January 20).

When I watch Bojan play, I feel like I can physically make out the lessons he is picking up from his Barça teammates. He has the stutter step of Henry, the inside move of Leo Messi, and the bull-in-a-china-shop obtuseness of Samuel Eto’o. There’s even the occasional flash of the buck-toothed one in there. He is like a sponge–perhaps a tiny one, but one nonetheless–that soaks up everything around it. I see him as being in that in-between stage, where he is struggling to fit the pieces together. At some point they’re going to click into place and we will have a magnificent striker with a veteran head on his shoulders at an early age. That, I think, is what Guardiola sees in him.

Part of that is getting his head around his own emotions, which are those of, just to grab a random age out of the bag, a 19-year old. Yes, he’s an adult now and if he reads this he’ll probably 1) think I’m insane for calling him Banjo and 2) consider me a jerk for not respecting his age, much as I did when I was that age and others told me to grow up. I am grown up! I’m 19! I’m not so removed from that age–only 7 years–that I don’t remember what it was like, but I’m not so naive to think that in 7 years Bojan won’t be a more mature player.

Now don’t get me wrong, he will never be a world beater in the Messi or Ibra sense or the Henry-in-his-prime sense, but he will have enough tools to be a solid member of the squad for years. And until he’s 21 or 22, I see no reason to do anything other than support his Copa appearances and the occasional sub in the league. He’ll develop rapidly enough and pushing him to do so will only make him force the issue on the field and screw up more. Perhaps I’m wrong and perhaps he’ll never be the player I think he can be, but I withhold judgment on him until he has developed more.

Iniesta made his debut with the senior team at the age of 18, but didn’t make inroads on the starting 11 until 20. Xavi was a regular contributor at 18, but only became a permanent fixture at 21. Puyol made his debut at the age of 21. Thierry Henry made his debut at 17, but didn’t become a regular 10+ yearly goalscorer until he was 22 and playing for Arsenal. In fact, his track record at Monaco was worse than Bojan’s (141 apps 28 goals compared to Krkic’s 106apps 26 goals already for Barcelona). Give Bojan time.

*At 22 I was learning more about Rossi and trying to forget the details of several members of the fairer sex, but that’s hardly my point.

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in Germany with his wife and daughter.


      • January 8, 2010

        Me too, man, me too. I almost freaked out and posted it, but then saw IT WAS A HOAX AAAARGH.

        • eklavya
          January 8, 2010

          But still, if there’s one pro player who can really do that eyes closed its him

  1. Tyler
    January 7, 2010

    Banjo Crickets featuring Soggy Biscuits on steel guitar!

    • Tyler
      January 7, 2010

      and also I think you’re right, let him develop @ Barca, and maybe take away some of the huge expectations he was given after a successful beginning at the club.

      btw, have you watched Iker Munian for Athletic Bilbao? The kid is 17 and plays with more tenacity and power than Bojan. I think in a few years he’s going to be a crack for sure!

      • Vj
        January 7, 2010

        Different strokes for different blokes..

        And I remember the same thing was said about Freddy Adu, and look where he’s ended up.. Tough job the forecasting bit, you never know what might happen in the future..

        Same goes for that Vadala kid, which ironically, is where I live..

        • Tyler
          January 7, 2010

          you’re right, Adu was a bust big time. I think what impresses me about Iker is he’s playing in a real league for a very good hard-nosed team. But we’ll have to wait and see.

          How’s the weather in India?

          • Kxevin
            January 7, 2010

            But Adu never did anything really. He was just this American player who could do step-overs and whatnot.

          • Vj
            January 7, 2010

            Very chilly at 26 degrees.. CELSIUS! Weather in India especially in the West and Southern regions is almost always HOT..

            BTW Iker Muniain has all the makings of a Crack.. and a role at Bilbao which Bojan doesn’t.. If properly groomed, he’ll be a crack for sure..

          • January 7, 2010

            I just started Maximum City last night. Very interesting stuff. An ex of mine lived in Jaipur for a bit and it was interesting to hear her progressive liberal account of being a woman in India.

            My parents are headed there (to the tiny country that is India) in the summer for some sort of mission trip (not sure if religion is involved or if it’s just working with an orphanage). ISAIAH WANT GO BUT IT FAAAAR.

  2. Eklavya
    January 7, 2010

    I don’t think we have any real basis on which to juge him, he’s never really played a series of matches with the whole full fledged A-team line up. He started only a few last season and about one or two this season. I remember the ones against Basel,Cultural and one against another team, in which he scored twice both times. I know he still sucked somewhat in those matches but at his age, just getting onto the scoreline is already an achievement. You don’t suddenly become a superstar, one step at a time. The first is building confidence (which is building slooowy though). This is how Pedro worked out too…being in the right place at the right time and scoring (at the beginning).

  3. Blow-Granite
    January 7, 2010

    I believe Bojan plays best on the right wing where Messi plays. This is where he did well during the Rijkard era. And he did well when Messi was injured. So, as long as Messi is there Bojan’s development will only be partial. He needs to be in a team like Xerez who is all good in most departments, but lacks a striker to stay out of relegation zone. Same for K9 and Henrique.

    • January 7, 2010

      You may be right, BG, but I do read Bojan as being a Barça man who will suddenly click and be scoring 10+ goals a year even limited playing time. It just takes a bit to develop that and I don’t think he’d develop as quickly somewhere else. Keirrison and Henrique (and Botia and VicSan) are different in that they are a bit older and play different positions that I don’t think we need at the moment.

      I still wanted Caceres to stay and was probably one of the more optimistic commenters on Henrique before he left us on loan again. He’s playing in the majority of matches with Racing, so that’s positive, but I just don’t know how that stacks up to the development of a Muniesa or Fontas, who are in the B squad working with Luis Freakin’ Enrique and occasionally with Guardiola himself.

      Maybe a loan deal is a good idea, but I don’t think so in this case.

      • Eklavya
        January 7, 2010

        The only place I wouldn’t mind him being loaned off to is Ajax. Play somewhat like barca, very easy league etc etc.
        They don’t have too much strikers do they? After Huntelaar’s departure?

          • Flippy
            January 7, 2010

            Suarez usually plays RW these days, but used to be more on the LW before. Jol’s striker is Pantellic who they acquired last summer. He is over 30 though. His sub is Cvitanich who is mid-20s I think. Ajax do have a youth player that isn’t getting alot of time as well, but his name has eluded me.

      • Blow-Granite
        January 7, 2010

        The other problem is that the striker positions are all taken in the current Barca lineup – Henry(Iniesta), Ibra, Messi(P!), and the box crashers – Keita/Xavi/Yaya, and lately our CB Pique and wingers Alves Maxwell and Abidal also blossoming as a supporting strikers. For Bojan to develop he needs to have a regular starter role and play matches week in and week out where he can develop his positioning(evading the defenders) and fine tune his shooting/dribbling in a pre-defined area of the pitch. Right now he is playing everywhere and does not have a focus on his development. What I mean everywhere he needs to have a constant set of players he plays with on his right/left and behind him so he develops a good understanding with them and get on with his one twos and feints to open up spaces to shoot. When ever Bojan starts, he is never playing with the same set of players, so he has almost no telepathy or connection with them on the pitch. case in point: Bojan plays well with Henry – and how many times has Pep started them together!

  4. Kxevin
    January 7, 2010

    Well, I haven’t seen anything that gives me a reason to alter my assessment of Krkic after the Sevilla match, which is:

    Wasted roster spot.

    Let me explain. He plays the Copa for us. Period. Yes, he gets Liga time, but not in any serious way. As a limited player with limited playing options, can we afford to carry him? At present, with a small squad, sure.

    But what if we had a full squad, of productive players who could all help the side win in all competitions? Would anyone be advocating keeping Krkic on the roster? Not me. I think that anybody on our roster, particularly in its less-than-full state, needs to be able to help the side win a match in any competition, from Copa Catalunya to Champions League. Guardiola shouldn’t have to apologize for his selection, by saying in effect, “Well hell, I gotta play ’em, right?”

    I’m all about potential. Krkic has gobs of it, but I fear that it will always be unrealized, because his biggest limitation for Krkic is size. Look at it this way: I would have loved, when I was young enough, to ride the Tour de France. But nature gave me a body that weighed 250 lbs and could make a bicycle go 45+mph for about 10 seconds. Then it needed a sandwich, and a nap. That’s what life does.

    The other complexity for Krkic is that his size couples with the way that he wants to play. He just can’t do what he wants when there are grownups around. He still hasn’t learned that he isn’t in the youth ranks yet, where everybody was around his size, and he pretty much could do what he wants.

    Now what’s interesting is that Iniesta seems smaller than Krkic, even if he really isn’t. But he plays so much bigger. Krkic is a forward with a midfielder’s body. So we either have to find a way to make his form match his reality, or ship him out. Yes, the danger is that he becomes a major talent for somebody else, but I just don’t see that happening, unless he sees a significant growth spurt in the next year or two, which ain’t likely given his age.

    Compare that with Keirrison, who is almost 6 feet tall, 21 years old and notched 33 goals in 66 appearances with Cortiba. Yes, it’s Brazil. I know. We’re trying to find a place to loan him to, but why not at least give him a try in some practices? He showed up, and went away. But is he talented? Is he talented enough to play with us? And, if a guy like Keirrison had, this season, been given the time and patience that we are giving Krkic, what would he be doing?

    Good question.

    We all know that Krkic has talent. Gobs of it. I just don’t know that he has the body to overcome his talent. I’d love to be wrong, and I would love for the gods to make things like that right. Because if Krkic had, say Keirrison’s body, we probably wouldn’t even have needed to buy Ibrahimovic, and the club could have spent that 60m on a party. Yay!

    • January 7, 2010

      I think, though, that you’re mistaking his potential as one-sided potential. Or perhaps not mistaking, but reading it in a way that I do not. I see his potential as an out-and-out 9 to be roughly 0. He’s like a Saviola, who I have always admired; Bojan is able to play the sweeping runs really well, but hasn’t quite latched onto some of the post-reception concepts and the understanding that you don’t have to push your brain so hard. Relax, kid.

      As someone who plays that position (crossing forward, constantly in motion), albeit at a level that would make Bojan look like Romario+Pele+Batigoal x 100, I can say that the toughest part of that role is not getting open, but figuring out positional responsibilities. His body is probably also not up to its peak conditioning because he’s young and a man’s body starts to peak between 20-24 in terms of brute strength and 24-28 in terms of endurance. so he’s still going up up up in physical abilities and will soon have full mastery over his body.

      Because he is playing at a very very high level (the highest there is, in my opinion), its easy to forget that he’s pretty much just a child. If it weren’t obvious that he works tremendously hard to understand the concepts of the game as well as working hard on the actual field, I think that he’s really just a step or so away from becoming a flatout success at our club. Imagine if instead of not scoring those three chances he had against Atlante in the CWC, he does score them. Suddenly he has as many goals as Keita and we’re not really having this conversation.

      Again, he’ll never be a Messi or a Xavi or an Ibra (Kevin is very right that he doesn’t have the body for the last one), but he’ll be a Bojan, which will be pretty great. Never a full starter, but a solid contributor for a long time. And if I’m wrong in two years, then I’ll be happy to ship him out, on a free if necessary.

      • January 7, 2010

        Oh and Saviola is the guy keeping Keirrison from playing time at Benfica. Interesting, to say the least.

  5. jordi
    January 7, 2010

    The thing is K9 doesnt offer much more than Bojan, his build up play, dribbling, consistent finishing is lacking i.e, all the things bojan gets criticised far.Basically, even though its probably true that pep sent Keirrson out was beause he didnt sign him and it was over his head, shady traffick partnership etc, i suspect he sent him out because of those precise limitations.

    I beleve bojan has a better chance at overcoming them because he already can pick out very good to great passes (if anyone remembers the many great balls he was giving samu when he was searching for the pichchi), eventually he can play on the wing in henry’s position while K9 can not, and when hes confident he is a brilliant finisher and makes all the right runs already.It comes down ,in my oppinion to the fact that bojan can play all across the front 3 some day and will be more versatile.To date Keirrison hasnt played for brazil at any level (youth) so there isnt much to suggest he will be better than bojan.I think they will both be great players in the future, whether for Barca or not is another question.

    Andy cole, got released from arsenal when he was 22 and deemed not good enough, he went on to become the 4th all time score in the premiership.There are many similar stiries like this in football.I wouldnt get rid of him unless he wants to leave himself, and if he does leave we should include a 3 year buyback clause.Oleguer got to stay till he was 27, bojan at 19 withhis potential should atleast get to stay till hes in his early 20’s.If we make him available, we wont be able to count the clubs that will be interested in him.

    • Keano
      January 7, 2010

      Issue with the comparison with henry at that age, as henry had the raw materials to make it- pace, height etc. If you dont release him thou he won’t get the time to play and develop.catch 22 really.

  6. Keano
    January 7, 2010

    Don’t think Guardiola rates him, think he prefers more physical forwards ala kliuvert

  7. BL
    January 7, 2010

    almost everything you said in that article is what i’ve been saying, in short: give the kid more time, its just not fair any other way – that time may be with barca athletic, the first team or perhaps a loan… but he needs to develop more and he needs support.

  8. Cesc Blanc
    January 7, 2010

    That was a great post…100% agreed!
    The problem is that Bojan with 17 in his first season was at a dysfunctional team and for whatever reason had no pressure in some games and since he put in an effort compared to his teammates who didn’t, he looked well. Plus we had all the injuries etc.
    Fact is however that he is 19 and he seems more like a shy/thoughtful person than anything else so it’s not his thing to be in the spotlite.
    That 1 year/season probably hurt his progress more than anything else. It wasn’t natural. It was rather by accident. Now the problem is however that the press and fans expect things from him he can’t deliver, so he loses his swagger. But the fact is that we can only expect anything from him once he could possibly go to Vegas to a black jack table and later to a strip club(I could recommend him Olympic Garden)

  9. mike in africa
    January 7, 2010

    wat a revelation… this article!!! isaiah is at his prime, like toure!

  10. john
    January 7, 2010

    I’m going to make the following prediction with a fair amount of confidence: That if Bojan were playing for any other team, a sweeping majority of the contributors of this site would be drooling in their beer steins over the prospect of acquiring him, and slapping 15mil+ price tags on his underdeveloped booty. This predicated on the idea that he’d be a long term investment that would grow up to be a Barcelona legend.

    My point is that it seems okay to watch a not-yet-complete player on another team and swear up and down that they’ll soon be stars and argue that your team should bite fast so as to avoid steep transfer fees later, but it’s another thing when that process of development slows your current achievements.

    It doesn’t help that Barcelona has currently winning everything there is to win lately. Were this a team with more modest goals (like, say, only winning one of la Liga and the CL) then everyone would most likely be a little more realistic about Krkic’s contributions, and accept that at 19 he needs time and patience. But if that means the team doesn’t win (GASP) the Copa del Rey (double GASP with extra sauce!) then he needs to find his playing time elsewhere.

    And the ‘develop on some other team’s buck’ mentality – Real Madrid has been using this line of reasoning for the last 10 years. Look where it has gotten them, in terms of youth development.

    • Cesc Blanc
      January 7, 2010

      I would make the prediction that if Bojan would be playing for any other team, his career would end with 21.

      The guy has some real anxiety issues…we’re not dealing with a normal kid here. He has great talent but because of psychological reasons, his career could end up short too.

      • john
        January 7, 2010

        There’s certainly some validity to that. It’s hard to forget that whole puking-in-the-tunnel-before-1st-international-start and subsequent-exclusion-from-the-game incident. But then Sevilla’s commitment to Jesus Navas is being paid off in spades lately.

        • Cesc Blanc
          January 8, 2010

          they have different issues. navas is anxious to leave home, bojan is anxious to deliver.

  11. peoples
    January 7, 2010

    To Isaiah, I think you are absolutely correct. If we take a look at Cesc Fàbregas’s statistics at Arsenal, we notice that it wasn’t before the age of 19-21 he started to really picking up his trade. At this was with a sturdy starting place in the first eleven.

  12. vicsoc8
    January 7, 2010

    I’ve made my arguments before, and a lot of them are here already, but I’m going to say them again because…. I like hearing myself talk (type?)

    First of all, Kxevin’s waste of roster spot idea – it’s rubbish. An analogy will show why: Imagine you want a cheesburger that costs 5 dollars, and you find $5.50 on the ground. Saying Bojan is a waste of a roster spot is like leaving the extra .50 on the ground. The fifty cents may not help you get that cheeseburger now, but it could come in handy later, and it doesn’t burden or harm you in any way to hold on to it. There’s no reason not to hold onto the .50.

    Saying “what if” we had a larger roster doesn’t make the point valid either, unless we’re living in a fantasy world. Fact is, we have a light roster, and we’re going to need him if deity forbid we have long term injuries.

    I think a major issue here is people have different expectations for Bojan, because he joined the first team at such a young age. He’s 19. We shouldn’t compare him to Pedro, or even Jeffren. Instead we should be comparing him to JDS, Thiago, Fontas, etc. When we do, we see he’s playing about at the level we should expect, and more often. We don’t talk about getting rid of any of those players because they don’t make a big impact on the team. In fact, it’s the opposite. We’re generally happy if they play and don’t screw up too bad.

    As for his size: “to play football you only need to be tall enough so that your legs reach the ground.” (Copyright vicsoc8). Eto’o was a hulking giant, or particularly good in the air, but he was one of our most prolific strikers ever. Bojan’s play shouldn’t depend on his height – he needs to be making intelligent, deceptive runs and using his instinctive positioning. If you watch, his problem this year isn’t physical anyways, it seems to be completely psychological.

    Barcelona has built its success on the development of its youth. However this isn’t an easy policy to follow. There is always the chance for slumps and other issues when earning your way into the team. Despite our recent success I believe we must remain true to our principles (which are the roots of our success) and maintain our patience with our youth, even when they go through difficult times.

  13. vicsoc8
    January 7, 2010

    A note on Keirrison.

    He doesn’t get any time at Benfica, what makes you think he would be able to make a difference at Barcelona?

  14. January 7, 2010

    Completely agree with viscoc8, completely disagree with Kxevin. “Wasted roster spot”? What does that even mean? Does that mean he is keeping a spot that Barca could fill easily and for free with someone better? If yes, please tell me who, I’m all ears.

    Everyone on this site has been raving about the fact that Barca uses homegrown talent, including Kxevin. Well, if you’re going to use homegrown talent, you have to groom it, not expect the finished product, or anything approximating the finished product, at age 19. Only Messi was at “impact player” level at that age, no one else. With most players, they hit their peak between 22 and 26. If you want a team filled with finished products between 22 and 26, then become Chelsea or Real and just buy them all.

    The level of hate against Bojan by some here is amazing.

  15. January 7, 2010

    Also, the point about size is silly. How big is David Villa? How big is Leo Messi?

    His body will fill out in two or three years. In the mean time, let him develop: emotionally, mentally, physically. He is an asset, and only at a club like Barca where fans are so spoiled can people ever doubt that.

  16. Kxevin
    January 8, 2010

    Jump on me all you like, but the fact remains that Krkic can’t play against grownups. So for me, he is a wasted roster spot because now, he isn’t even effective in Copa matches. I’ve explained time and again what a “wasted roster spot” means, so spare me the outrage. And it isn’t hate. Just because someone doesn’t feel the way that you do, doesn’t mean, once and for all, that they hate the player. It just means that they have a different view of his abilities. Reducing a hertofore rational argument to simple emotion doesn’t help the matter. It only smears it.

    Sorry, but the truth hurts. I know he’s a canterano, and has pearly whites and all that, but if any other attacker on our side put in the consistently ineffective displays that Krkic had, people would be calling for his head. He’s been with the first team for what, going on four seasons, and he’s getting worse, not better. So now what? He needs more time. How much more?

    Villa plays a very different style than Krkic, so that isn’t an apt comparison. He’s also 5’9″, two inches in difference that are significant when it comes to facing up defenders and, frankly, being able to see over them. Which is why Villa gets around defenders, where Krkic gets stood up, and has the ball taken away.

    If Krkic had Messi’s control, attacking ability and ball skills, his height and size wouldn’t be at issue. But he doesn’t, so they are. And a serious one. As for Guardiola rating him, the view of Guardiola is suddenly malleable, right? He’s a genius for rating Krkic, but a jackass for not playing The Yaya more. Pick one.

    People will defend Krkic until they’re blue in the face, and can spit bile at me all they like, but my view is not affected a whit: He will not be a star for this club. Not now, not never. He will be what he is right now: A member of the All Potential team who people would like to see succeed, and don’t want to cut loose because what if he stars for someone else, and faces us. Really? Does anyone want to speculate about what would happen if Krkic came up against Puyol? Same thing that happened when Eto’o came up against Puyol: Nothing.

    Krkic has a shot if he learns to play a position that is better suited for his size, or lack thereof. Even then, who do I want to see running around midfield, Krkic or Thiago? That’s a no-brainer.

    He can’t play, or really score goals against adult-sized competition, which leaves you with what? In the eyes of some, a player who needs (still more) time. Whatever. For me, it’s a wasted roster spot. If I saw Krkic playing for another club, and doing what he did whenever faced by a full-sized defender, I would say “Damn, that dude would rock the house if he were normally sized.”

    But he isn’t, and he never will be.

    And it isn’t about me being “spoiled.” It’s about a player carrying his weight. Gudjohnsen couldn’t, and everyone wished him gone. Hleb couldn’t, and everyone wished him gone. Hell, Henry can, and people still wish him gone. Krkic can poach, and score goals. So can Keirrison. Check out his videos on YouTube. We own him, too, but he isn’t a canterano, so everyone is saying to heck with him. He didn’t get playing time at Benfica. Would Krkic?

    • vicsoc8
      January 8, 2010

      Agree to disagree on Bojan. My opinion won’t change yours, yours won’t change mine, fair enough.

      Gudjohnsen and Hleb aren’t good comparisons – one was past it and the other was supposed to be a finished product, but was really just an ass. I don’t think many people want Henry gone, they just want him to play like he did last year (although he is aging, and I do think it will be necessary to bring in some fresh blood in his stead at the end of the season. I’ll be sad to see him go).

      Keirrison can score and poach in Brazil, Bojan has done it in Europe. HUGE difference. I’m not against Keirrison, but it’s a big transition to make, and so far he has been unsuccessful.

    • stephen
      January 8, 2010

      I agree of the Waste of roster spot, and not in the sense that we have all these options but having someone on the roster that doesnt help its like not having that person there at all.

      I think Bojan needs to go in the same manner that Victor Sanchez left, he had “potential” but a team in the level of barcelona does not need “potential” we need talent, barcelona does not need “luck”, we need skills. I think last cope Bojan was lucky, and playing with Cataluya.

      Size yes, definately a small guy, but like some say Iniesta is just as small, but hes not scared, which is what i think Bojan, just scared to play man-to-man futbol.

      He’s out in my book, we play with 10 men when Bojan is on the pitch.

      • vicsoc8
        January 8, 2010

        I can’t believe you compared Victor Sanchez with Bojan, and I’m not even really sure what to say.

        Did you see Bojan play for Catalunya? Luck? More like there wasn’t any pressure on him for that game, and he played well – once again indicating that his problem is psychological, not physical.

        Deity forbid it, but if two of our forwards are hurt for any amount of time, Bojan is going to be needed. When the squad is this light every player matters.

    • Vj
      January 8, 2010

      “Jump on me all you like”

      Doesn’t matter to someone with a 250lb frame, does it? 😀

  17. January 8, 2010

    You still haven’t answered the question. Please tell me what you would do with Bojan’s roster spot. When you say it is wasted, you are implying you can fill it with someone better at the same price (i.e. free). So give me a name.

    • stephen
      January 8, 2010

      Whats the point of having him on the roster if he doesnt provide anything productive on that field other than meeting regulation 11 players???
      He needs to go somewhere else to develop, Barcelona cannot risk it with someone who shined, and suddenly became dull and just awful on the field.

    • Kxevin
      January 8, 2010

      I’d give Keirrison a try. We already own him, and it’s doubtful he could be any less effective. And I’m betting that he would be more effective, because (and I will grant you that highlight reel videos can be deceptive) he looks to be a poacher extraordinaire, one of those “right place, right time” specialists who pops in goals.

      • Blow-Granite
        January 8, 2010

        Couldn’t agree more on that point!!!

  18. January 8, 2010

    It’s also unbelievable that four seasons (from age 16 to 19) are apparently enough to judge a player’s ENTIRE career. *Shakes head*

    • Kxevin
      January 8, 2010

      That isn’t quite true, Ahsan. What I’m saying is that Krkic’s limitations in the context of the position that he plays, are fatal. I’m surprised nobody brought up the other Small Wonder forward, Kun Aguero, btw.

  19. jordi
    January 8, 2010

    “He will not be a star for this club. Not now, not never”

    Quite an assertion.Will quote that in a couple years for sure 😉 .Did you know yaya had a trial at arsenal when he was 19 but wasnt good enough? He sure has changed in 7 years. Not shocking, as a footballer is no where near his best as a teen

    • stephen
      January 8, 2010

      But yaya developed somewhere other than the greatest club on this planet, so Bojan needs to do the same, out for awhile, if hes awesome later, we’ll sure welcome him back.

    • Kxevin
      January 8, 2010

      Jordi, if I’m wrong and he becomes a star while in the colors, I’ll be more than happy to eat those words. True that.

      The example of The Yaya is different I think, because he came out of the womb bigger than Krkic is now. It’s also a different position, a skill set that can be learned.

      Someone mentioned Krkic’s play for Catalunya against Argentina. I consider that a flawed example, because there wasn’t a lot of defense being played in that match, which was the essence of a friendly exhibition.

      • Jnice
        January 8, 2010

        “The example of The Yaya is different I think, because he came out of the womb bigger than Krkic is now.”

        LOL, good one.

  20. Lou
    January 8, 2010

    It’s hard for me to agree with the assertion that Bojan can’t “play against grownups”. What about the Copa final last year, where he scored that fantastic (and very important) third goal, or near the last few Liga games of last season when I thought he was our best attacking player?

    He’s also about the same size as Pedro and Jeffren.

    Consistently excellent he is not, but I think that comes down to experience and mentality. Whether he can overcome the latter is an open question, but I don’t see the harm in continued patience. If he matures and becomes a valuable member of the squad great, but let’s at least wait until he’s no longer a teenager to make that call.

  21. January 8, 2010

    On Keirrison: So give him a try. Trust me, Bojan Krkic is not the reason K is not in the squad. Thus the comment about “waste of a roster spot” is a non-sequitur. Bojan is not holding anyone back. Your repeated use of the phrase is incredibly insulting, because you are not saying that X would be better than Bojan in the squad, you are saying that not having Bojan at all, irrespective of anyone taking his spot, would be better than Bojan. If he sucks so bad, he won’t play, and he’ll sit on the bench. Why does it bother you so much that he’s in the squad?

    On fatal flaws: How do you know that the flaws he has at 19 are the flaws he will have at 23? You don’t think you’re being the slightest bit premature in asking him to be shipped out based on his so-called regression in four seasons before his 20th birthday? Please go back six years and read what people used to say about Iniesta.

    On positions/skill sets/size: Again, you’re picking and choosing. Since when did DMF become a position where skills can be learned but forward/second striker is not? And, again, at the risk of repeating myself, Bojan will fill out his body. He’s 19! Look at what Kobe Bryant looks like now (or even five years ago) and compare him to when he came into the NBA. Teenagers aren’t SUPPOSED to look like men — if they did, we’d get suspicious about what drugs they’re taking.

    • Kxevin
      January 8, 2010

      Sorry, but the only person to whom my “waste of a roster spot” should be insulting to is Krkic. And he’s a professional athlete. He’ll get over it, if he ever sees it.

      I repeat, as they say in the biz, you can’t coach size. Krkic has the skills. He doesn’t have the size. Period, full stop. And he never will. Which means that all of the calls for more time, ego massaging, and all of the other stuff that people call for won’t matter, because he still won’t have the size. He is filling out, so to speak. He is noticeably more muscular than he was last season. He’s also noticeably slower as a consequence. He’s filling out, but he isn’t filling up. And that, for me, is the issue.

      So what now?

      Again, in my opinion, if he’s treated as he should have been, he’s Luis Enrique’s problem instead of ours, because we moved him up too soon, to keep from losing him. Now he’s on the bench, and Guardiola feels a need to play him, because maybe today will be the day, right? Our assessments of Krkic are reduced to hope.

      Who, except the most rabid Krkic devotees, would see him coming into a match and say “Alright! Good times are a comin’!” With a roster the size of ours, we just can’t afford to have a guy who is so limited.

      He has skills. He has talent. He just doesn’t have the physical skills at the level at which he is playing to implement his gifts. It happens all the time. The difference is that those players rarely become mascots, so to speak. They just become players who are cut loose because they don’t have what it takes to make it at a specific level, and life goes on.

      • gee
        January 8, 2010

        You would deny it but I think you hate him. What irritated us the most is that you keep bushing him, you never miss any chance to attack him. I remember you saying, “he scored into an empty goal”(empty goal? but he shot the ball passed the goalkeeper), “Krkic did nothing, the goal is all Pedro’s” (oh but Bojan created the chance and San Pedro pushed the ball into the net), and you rated him 5 when he scored two.
        In my eyes you (and stephen) just dislike someone like him, an immature, vulnerable boy who is loved unconditionally by people, don’t you?

        ” if I’m wrong and he becomes a star while in the colors, I’ll be more than happy to eat those words. True that.”

        I don’t think so. I see you gnashing your teeth when he scores because you already complicated the *relationship* between YOU and KRKIC.
        It’s sad to see someone like you because Krkic is just a boy who works hard to be a great player for his boyhood club, the club is your life-long club too.

        • Kxevin
          January 8, 2010

          Yikes. You couldn’t be more wrong. My suggestion is that you go back and read The Offside, and delve into the archives here. What you will find is that I love the club, and don’t have a hint of emotion one way or the other for players, love or hate.

          I appreciate and laud when players help the club that I love succeed, or have a better chance at success. I also note when they can and do damage the club. As you research more, you will find that this is true, irrespective of who the player is. People have said that I hate: Marquez, Valdes, Messi, Gudjohnsen, Busquets, Eto’o, Iniesta and Keita. And those are just the ones that come to mind immediately. Can I really hate almost every starting player on a club that I love so much? Really?

          My observation about his goal was as part of a match review, and it was true. It was a goal that any of us could have scored. So yes, he scored it, but Pedro! deserved credit for it as well. He rated a 5 when he scored two because he didn’t do a damn thing else. Other players have received similar ratings for their efforts. It happens, and will happen again.

          You don’t know me well enough to see me “gnashing” anything, so it doesn’t serve your argument in any way to imagine that you do. When discussions become personal, they become a) silly and b) endless.

          This will not be the last time that I say something less than positive about Krkic when warranted, or some other beloved Barcelona player for that matter. So if you intend to frequent this space, get used to it. But the allegations that there is some “relationship” of any kind between any player and myself is the profoundest nonsense.

          If people want to love him unconditionally, rock on. I don’t. Club, yes, Player(s), no. No way. Not ever. How can I evaluate anyone reasonably if I love or hate them? Players come and players go. The club is constant.

          You feel strongly about the topic. That’s good. But when that becomes a personal assault on me, that’s bad. Hence my suggestion that you revisit my past efforts, to understand what goes on with my reviews, statements and comments.

          In a nutshell: No player is above the club. I don’t care who it is. Krkic wants to become a star, that’s fine. More power to him. But it isn’t happening, and he’s becoming more ineffective, rather than less so. This makes him a first-team player who cannot reliably improve our chances to win, which makes me wonder, quite justifiably, why he is still occupying a roster spot, and whether someone who is more capable would be a better fit.

          Now, if you have something that can refute that notion, I’d love to hear it. But personal crap is precisely that. Crap.

          • January 9, 2010

            Kxevin, I agree that Krkic has not fulfilled potential and is not giving us what we need. Also that he has serious size limitations to overcome.

            But then I think back to his debut season and, where were those problems then? Why did he play so well? And he DID, I think, play relatively well. He brought motivation and inspiration to a lackluster side and arguably stood out. Why then, and why not now?

            I saw that motivation and drive in his first game this season, against Gijon, where he played with joy and verve, and more importantly, with LEADERSHIP. he literally drove the team forward with intense effort, and it was great to see. what stopped him then? gijon were scared of tiny krkic?

            and then he got injured.

            it killed his confidence,i’d say,and i’d also venture that those who link his psychological well being to his form are on to something. remember, he’s only 19, and he’s been under ENORMOUS pressure since his dream beginnings under rijkaard.

            and,i don’t expect you to make statements like ‘he will never be good enough’. no one’s omniscient.

    • gee
      January 8, 2010

      Agree. Apparently Gai Asslin isn’t ready for the first team too for the same reason but no one doubts his talent.

      • BL
        January 8, 2010

        i do, i don’t see it in gai at all. at least from what i’ve seen so far. bojan makes him look like a chump and that says a lot at present time.

        • Kxevin
          January 8, 2010

          Assulin is where Krkic should be, in my estimation: with the B team, and practicing/working out with the first team, with occasional match duty.

          We haven’t really seen enough of him to make any real decisions, but from what I’ve seen, I’d rather see Dos Santos, Jeffren or Thiago.

          I agree with BL on the Krkic vs Assulin assessment, though they play different positions.

    • Cam
      January 8, 2010

      Kobe Bryant was 6’6″ in 1996 and he is 6’6″ now. Does his extra strength and weight now help his game? Sure, but only to extent he uses them to compensate for slowly declining athleticism. Even as a skinny teenager Kobe was forcing people to take notice of the things he could do on a basketball court. By his second season in the NBA Kobe was averaging 15.5 points per game. By his third season he was averaging 20. Kobe is a more apt comparison for Messi than Bojan.

  22. Lumi
    January 8, 2010

    Why don’t we just loan him to Arsenal not part of any exchange just a loan and if he plays well then come summer we can use him as part of any deal

  23. January 8, 2010

    “Villa attracted interest from many Asturian teams, but one of the province’s bigger teams, Real Oviedo, declared that he was too short and that they did not believe he had sufficient potential. He subsequently got his professional breakthrough at his local club Sporting de Gijón, following in the footsteps of his childhood idol Quini. Starting out at the team’s youth ranks, he made his first-team debut in the 2000–01 season(he was 20/21 years then). After scoring 25 goals in two seasons, he became a first team regular. Pepe Acebal, the Sporting Gijon manager at the time, said that Villa initially lacked the stamina to have a real impact and had to be given his chance bit by bit and that Villa’s capacity for work was “unrivalled”.” Source Wikipedia

    Regardless of my unchanged opinion that Bojan can do better as a flanked forward than a striker (He is a second striker by nature), its still too early to doom him as a waste of space. He still can compete with Pedro and Jeff for a seat in our future plans. Its true that Pedro is performing great at the moment, which reminds me of Bojan first season if you know what I mean. Still too early to know who will tick or flick. If he is waste of space what can we say about Guti then in the past decade? When I get a squad of 14 players all are welling to rotate and be benched without complain and all can damage the opponent anytime they start, I consider Bojan as someone who is filling the space, more than wasting it.

    You need Squad players as well, not all players have to be Messis

    He may get better as a squad playuer, he may not. As long as “May”s are taking us both ways, I prefer to keep my cards close to my chest.

      • January 8, 2010


        When I get a squad of 24 players all are welling to rotate and be benched without complain and all can damage the opponent anytime they start, then We can enjoy the luxury of considering Bojan as a useless addition. Till then, I consider him as someone who is filling the space, more than wasting it.

  24. Jnice
    January 8, 2010

    Random but look at what Ibra does to Pique at 1:25


    • Vj
      January 8, 2010

      Pique got smoked there..

      Since when did we start having open training sessions?

      • Jnice
        January 8, 2010

        A treat for the fans on Three Kings Day, I think.

  25. Jnice
    January 8, 2010

    I willing to give Bojan exactly 4 more weeks, lol.

  26. January 8, 2010

    I don’t think Bojan will be an effective 9. I’ve always said he’s a natural 4-4-2 supporting striker that sadly came up on a team that lives with a 4-3-3. He HAS to adapt to a Henry like winger/second striker hybrid role or else he should not play. He’s not apt to be an offensive reference for the team. When he plays as the 9, our offense always sputters. Someone mentioned the Copa final. He played as a left winger with Samu and Messi interchanging as the 9’s. I would rather see Henry or even Messi playing the 9 than Bojan. Does this mean I think he is useless? No. However, he has a tougher path to adapt to the big leagues than guys like Jeffren and Pedro.

    In La Masia, Bojan was a natural poacher. He reminded me of a young Michael Owen in how he used speed and natural instinct to get behind defenses and/or steal goals. However, in the big boys leagues, I have to agree with ol’ Jonathan Wilson in his argument that the Poacher is a dying breed: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2009/jan/22/the-question-jonathan-wilson-goalpoachers .

    To quote from the article: “The best modern forwards are universal players; effectively hybrids of the old partnerships. The likes of Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Adebayor are both target-man and quick-man, battering-rams and goalscorers, imposing physically and yet also capable of finesse. A Thierry Henry or a David Villa mixes the best qualities of the creator and goalscorer, capable of dropping deep or pulling wide, as adept at playing the final ball as taking chances himself. Somewhere in between the two extremes are ranged Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres, Dimitar Berbatov and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.”

    The biggest argument against us “Bojan will never be an effective #9” folk is: “look at David Villa”. Exactly. Villa is an aberration. A genius who intuitively understands defenders and defenses, which runs to makes, when to drift wide, when to cut it, and when to pass. He had to work his ass off to get to where he is and make no mistake that he is physically underrated. He does not play like a goal poacher. Bojan does. Also, lest we forget that his best performances have come as a second striker. Torres ain’t exactly chopped liver either when they play for Spain. Villa is also one tough SOB. The son of a miner who grew up in a mining town and had to work his way up from his small local club. Bojan has a LONG way to go mentally, physically, and technically if he wants to be like Villa. Aguero? He’s a natural second striker as well. How well has he played without Forlan?

    I can see where Kevin’s wasted roster spot argument is coming from. As a Barca fan since the bad old days, let me try to convey how much we should appreciate last season and this particular team. We might get the impression that La Masia is and will be continually pumping out Xavi’s, Iniesta’s, Messi’s, and Puyol’s. That was not always the case. Make no mistake that this is a once in a life time team with once in a life time players. You will never get in their primes Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, and Ibra combined with a young Pique and a veteran Puyol again. Appreciate this. What does this have to do with Kevin’s argument? This leads to a bit of a “Win NOW” mentality. If we have THIS team, can we really afford to be giving high quality minutes and a continual first team slot to a project? Why not loan him out or use him a la JDS or Jeffren. I know he was brought up too soon but still… This is a singular generation of players that we have at the core of this Barca team and there is the temptation to just go all out and give them as much high quality support to win as possible.

    I feel for Bojan because he is stuck behind a rock and a hard place in that he has to make some major adjustments to his playing style to succeed at this level. He is not effective at the 9 but Messi has the right wing on lockdown and other young players like Pedro and Jeffren who have played as wingers their whole lives have a built in advantage playing on the left where Bojan would conceivably transfer to. He has no time to learn. Its a hell of a tough spot.

    • Cam
      January 8, 2010

      This is spot on. Bojan has been stuck in this period where the things he did to be successful in youth leagues don’t translate to the highest level of football. The fear I have always had for him as he tries to adapt his game is that, while he does a lot of things well, he doesn’t have that one thing, the one skill that strikes fear in a defender. Bojan has a good shot, good place, a good dribble with both feet, is a good passer, has a good, if inconsistent, first touch and good close control. But he’s not a standout at any of them. Pedro and Jeffren have their issues, but Jeffren has class pace and Pedro has great close control and is a great ball striker. When all else fails they can fall back on these attributes. There is no comparison here, but when he was first introduced to the squad Messi ran with his head down and might as well have left his right foot in the locker. But he always had the ability to skin defenders and throw up an audacious finish. Defenders always feared that and gave him room to breathe. When you watch Bojan, he doesn’t have that thing. He doesn’t scare anybody. Defenders crowd him out because they aren’t worried he will make a run beyond them, dribble past them or muscle his way through. If he is going to take that next step towards becoming an impact player, Bojan (and the technical staff) have to figure out what his thing is going to be. When he steps on the pitch, what is he going to do that will affect defenses and tilt matches for his team? He needs to find that thing and then maybe the rest will come with time.

    • stephen
      January 8, 2010

      Okay this is saying what we have been saying with less anger and more fancy stats and comparisons. Nobody has anything personal against him, but like you say, its the SuperDreamTeam and when theres a flaw in it, we dont want to see it on the field, i think its frustrates the rest of the team as well, to attempt something but a player isnt connecting.
      He has a future, but a loan is necessary.

  27. Bundy
    January 8, 2010

    I donno, If he is such a wasted spot then why has Pep still kept him with the big boys?

    Pep could so easily have loaned him out or even sold him in the summer. I beleive Pep never coached Bojan in the youth team and he doesn’t know him at all, then doesn’t that give all the more reason for Pep to release him? But why hasn’t Pep rid him yet?

    Why has Pep shipped off Hleb, Caceres, Gudjohnen etc. with a click of the finger. Its not just cos they weren’t Pep’s sigings, Hleb was aparently Pep’s Idea.

    I don’t beleive Pep has no beleif in Bojan, or else Bojan wouldn’t be in Barcelona right now. Both Pep and even bojan himself said they do not agree on a loan deal, Clearly that indicates Bojan still has Value in this team.

    Also, I beleive his physicality is not an issue, I remember the past few copa del rey games in which both Bojan and Pedro featured. Bojan doesn’t have any physicality but in the copa game where Pedro scored two goals and I think jeffren assisted a goal, Bojan was left in the cold, but if we were to go back and watch that game, Bojan had all the dirty work to do in that CF position, he played pretty decent among the 5 cb’s surrounding him. Im sorry but the kid has guts, when was the last time he backed out of a physical bout?

    I donno, I wouldn’t ride off Bojan just yet. there are always times when even a world class player looks grim on the field, some even more than others.

  28. Larm
    January 8, 2010

    i still think bojan should be loaned (with a no purchase option) to milan. they play the same formation. both he and pato are similar players. he can learn from inzaghi on how to poach. dinho and becks on how to pass.

    • Eklavya
      January 8, 2010

      Meh, how would that be of any use?!He can learn better how to pass from Xavi and Iniesta…
      Loaning him to milan would hardly help.

  29. Carles P
    January 8, 2010

    Found this article on Bojan from Jonathan Wilson (back when he was 15-16 years old):


    • January 8, 2010

      And note this part:

      “There are only a few players who have a magical touch,” the former Barça midfielder Pep Guardiola said, “and Bojan is one of them.”


      • Kxevin
        January 8, 2010

        But he was carrying Krkic in his pocket when he said that! Not fair! 😀

  30. September 17, 2010

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