By Stefan Coerts
Not too long ago, Bojan Krkic was regarded as one of the game's biggest prospects and seemed destined for greatness. The attacker had not only broken all kinds of goalscoring records while playing for Barcelona's youth teams, he also initially impressed after making the step from La Masia into the Catalans' senior side in 2007-08.
Bojan dethroned Lionel Messi as the youngest player to feature for Barca in La Liga when Frank Rijkaard sent him on against Osasuna in September 2007 and he got his first goal barely a month later. He would go on to find the net 12 times in 48 appearances in all competitions in his debut season and some even suggested Bojan had the potential to make as much of an impact as Messi, with Rijkaard one of his keenest admirers.
"I'm delighted for Bojan because he just does everything right on the field. Every decision he takes is the right one. You look at his age and then you see him performing like a great player for his team. It was a pleasure to watch him," the Dutchman said after the attacker helped Barca past Schalke in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
|BOJAN'S CAREER IN NUMBERS
Sadly enough, his spell at the Giallorossi did little to get things back on track as he failed to impress at the Serie A side. Bojan completed just four league games all season as Roma had to settle for seventh spot in the table and they happily accepted a loan offer from AC Milan at the end of a frustrating 2011-12 campaign.
But San Siro would not prove to be the right place to flourish for Bojan either, with the Spaniard ending up on the bench much more than he would have imagined when the Rossoneri first came calling. It was therefore little surprise that both Roma and Milan decided against retaining the Linyola-born forward, leaving him no other option but to return to Barcelona.
Despite his relatively poor performances in recent years, there was still plenty of interest in Bojan last summer and he eventually decided to accept a one-year loan offer from Ajax, a deal which seemed to make sense for both parties at first sight.
The Eredivisie giants were keen to add some firepower to their attack after the departures of Miralem Sulejmani, Ryan Babel and Derk Boerrigter and Bojan's versatility made him the ideal addition for head coach Frank de Boer.
For Bojan, meanwhile, Ajax appeared to be the perfect destination due to their possession-based style of play and their domestic dominance in the past few seasons. The Amsterdam side's philosophy is quite familiar to that of Barcelona and their attackers generally get plenty of chances, thus creating seemingly ideal circumstances for the 23-year-old to flourish.
However, things have once more turned out differently for Barcelona's one-time rising star.
Bojan has netted just twice – both of which were Ajax's fourth goal in 4-0 wins - in 17 Eredivisie appearances, while setting up four more. What is even more worrying than his meagre output, however, is that he has in no way stood out in what is generally considered a relatively weak league.
Whereas many expected Bojan to thrive in Holland, he has actually been underwhelming in the majority of his games, even looking out of his depth on a number of occasions, and Netherlands legend Wim van Hanegem was quick to hit out at the attacker earlier this season.
"Phillip Cocu must have been very happy that Bojan joined Ajax rather than PSV. He simply lacks vision, is always complaining and comes across as an annoying person. There are more than enough better players around in the Eredivisie," Van Hanegem stated after yet another disappointing display from the forward.
Not meant to be | It's been yet another frustrating season for the Spanish forward
Bojan's unimpressive displays also mean Ajax are unlikely to make his stay at the club permanent once his loan deal expires at the end of the season and his recent struggles give him every reason to start worrying about his future.
It seems out of the question that another big club from one of Europe's top leagues is willing to take a gamble on the struggling forward and even mid-table sides in La Liga will think twice before making a move for Bojan.
He might therefore have to settle for a future in a country like Greece or Turkey, with clubs such as Olympiakos, PAOK, Panathinaikos, Galatasaray or Fenerbahce perhaps willing to give him one last chance - clubs many players would be delighted to join, but by no means what Bojan will have dreamed of when he first burst onto the scene.
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