It’s an international break, and that means the Barcelona dailies are rife with transfer rumors. If half of these stories are true we are going to have the most deadly attacking force in European football next season (wait, don’t we already?) Forget about an attacking trident, in the spirit of the season we are going to employ a manita of attackers with Rossi and Nilmar joining MVP, with Neymar and the majority of La Liga strikers warming the bench.
The rumors do however, bring up the eternal question: what the hell should the club do with Bojan? Before we start offering him up on Ebay, let’s take a look at his season. He has played less minutes than everyone except Pinto, Jeffren (who has played less than 90 minutes this season), Milito, Afellay, and Fontas. With Messi, Villa, and Pedro ahead of him he has been used mostly as a sub; only getting starts in the Copa and when one of our Terrific Trio is injured.
He has recently reared his baby face with 2 goals in 2 games and if we are lucky he will repeat his run of form that helped us win the league at the end of last season. Even so, a two game run of form can’t cover up his poor play throughout the season, and it seems as if our boy wonder has begun to stagnate at the club. So what do we do about it?
Selling him is not the right option, and it really isn’t even a possibility. As the youngest Barcelona player ever, the youngest player to score a goal for the club, and the third youngest player to reach 100 games in La Liga history, the club has a lot invested in the boy. Don’t expect a sale this summer.
Loaning him out for a season is an option that has been gaining a lot of traction, and not just on these pages. The general line of reasoning goes: going on loan will allow him to play more regularly and will alleviate his mental issues. It’s great for the player and the club; Bojan gets to go wreck defenses week-in week-out for a season and then the season after that he triumphantly returns – mentally strong and ready to play like a true Barcelona player. This is an idealized scenario, but the truth is a loan doesn’t guarantee anything, but rather is a calculated risk. What if he fails to impress on loan and ends up with less playing time than he gets at Barcelona?
From the club’s point of view, if Bojan goes out on loan it’s going to be necessary to replace him. Jeffren should be gone in the summer, and we have some serious depth issues at forward. Afellay can play on the wings, but so far he has been better when in the midfield. Will Rossi or Nilmar be willing to play backup to MVP? If Pep wants to add a target man to sit on the bench instead of someone who can play across the front line, then a player like Bojan is absolutely necessary for depth on the wings. Judging from the fact that we have spent over 100 million Euros in the last two summers on strikers, it doesn’t make sense to spend another 30 million on a squad player. While sending Bojan on loan might be good for his personal development, it will create complications with the squad depth.
At the same time, it is easy to understand why Bojan has been willing to stay at the club. He may get more playing time on loan, but it comes at the expense of working with one of the best coaches in the world. As a young player he should also be learning his trade from other world class forwards. With Henry, Ibrahimovic, and Villa (not to mention Messi) all spending time at the club there is nowhere better for him to be learning. Just like sending him on loan, keeping him at the club represents a risk. Will he be able to mature over time and grow into his own shoes with gradually increasing playing time? He will need to break through his mental barriers, and that is impossible to predict.
Whether Bojan stays at the club or goes on loan next season, there is no guarantee that he will break out of his prolonged slump. If he is sent on loan he will need to be replaced. It will be difficult to find someone who is willing to sit on the bench, is Barcelona quality, and won’t cost a fortune. Either way one thing is certain – the decision to keep Bojan around or send him on loan should be dictated largely by the transfer goals of the club this summer.