Bojan Krkic has been many things during his career. He has been the following Lionel Messi, a participant with immeasurable skill backed by Barcelona’s La Masia machine. He has been Spanish football’s next great hope, a record-breaker, another megastar poised to make his mark on the game permanently.
And he has been labeled a failure, a letdown. He has been a nomad, a wanderer, a cautionary tale of what could occur when uncontrollable hype is derailed by injuries, anxiety and all of the wrong bounces.
In certain ways, Bojan is all those things. He has embarked on a career unlike any other, joining a few of the world’s largest clubs on the way. He has achieved things that many players in this game would be jealous of. He has also experienced a special sort of criticism and scorn. At age 29, it seems like Bojan has played the game for a very long time.
He features for the Montreal Impact, as Bojan is currently among the greatest names in MLS, in an age when many expected him to be racking up La Liga documents and Ballon d’Or nominations.
Bojan understands all that’s been said about him and the player he’s become. He understands that Bojan the participant has had missteps along the winding route to Montreal. But, nowadays, Bojan the participant is secondary as the Spanish celebrity has come to terms with being Bojan the guy and all that accompanies it.
All the bad things [which have occurred ], they’re not bad things. It is helping you to do large measures to grow. I learned a lot from all those steps that I did. I’m really pleased to have lived those mistakes because today I’m who I am.”
He was the heir apparent, the next big thing, in a time when the current big thing was just beginning to discover what he can do on the field. Comparisons to Messi were instant as the Argentine began to blossom from celebrity to legend, and those comparisons have followed Bojan during his career.
Shortly, the stress hit, and Bojan’s national team career was derailed for this. The winger has been forced to back out of many call-ups from Spain as mental health problems made him dread playing that type of environment. Perhaps, the most promising and successful youth merchandise the country had ever produced, Bojan made just one senior appearance for Spain.
Soon after, he left Barcelona in search of a first-team location. At Barcelona, he fought to beat out the likes of Messi, David Villa and Pedro for a place in the lineup since he could not find a way to make the jump from gifted kid to first-team regular. It was a near-impossible undertaking, but one which has been expected of him.
A stay with Ajax attracted an Eredivisie name but little else. Loan spells were shown to be little more than bandits that had to be ripped off when the time arrived. That journey, finally, led him to Montreal and a new start with a team also looking for a new identity.
As he has set for his first full season in MLS, Bojan will be joined by a guy that immediately went from icon to teammate once the winger first broke through at Barcelona. For many years, Thierry Henry was a role model for adolescent Bojan. Now, he is his coach.
Bojan and Henry combined Barcelona’s first group the exact same season, the former a highly-touted academy merchandise and the latter a game-changing signing after a legendary career at Arsenal. In accordance with Bojan, when playing that Barcelona group”daily was a dream”. He was a child playing under Pep Guardiola and together with the likes of Messi, Henry, Villa, Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Carles Puyol as part of possibly the best team this game has seen.
It introduced an unlikely reunion for both former Barcelona celebrities, one which gives Bojan a opportunity to, in a bizarre way, reconnect with what was no doubt that the maximum point of his career.
“It’s hard to see when you play with somebody. But he is someone I always had respect for as a participant,” Bojan said of Henry,” and, for me personally, as a young player when I began with him, I tried to always be with him in the dressing room, to listen to what he had to say. It’s fantastic to have him.”
He added: “The important thing for the players when we do not play, we say,’ It is the trainer! The coach isn’t playing me!’ However, I think if we believe about ourselves, you want to help your mentor, especially now at the start of preseason. In my situation with Thierry, I won’t think about Thierry. I will think about me being in good shape physically, doing great things to perform great and then Thierry can help me to grow and perform much better.
Bojan is going to be the on-field face of this Impact, which is a role he adopts. In his eight appearances for the club during his brief foray into MLS last effort, the Spanish star scored three goals and added a tiny bit of energy into a club that very much needed it. The ability that earned him the hype is still there and Bojan remains an unbelievable dribbler and a fine founder.
However, with Henry’s arrival, a number of the spotlight does change towards a trainer that will dominate headlines all around the world. Bojan is going to be a pioneer for the influence on the area, for sure, but Henry is ready and prepared to command attention also.
Henry, fresh off a tricky spell in Monaco, should rebuild his reputation as a supervisor and prove that he’s capable of more than what he revealed during that short stay in Ligue 1. The Impact, who’ve missed the playoffs each of the previous three seasons, has to avoid falling further and further behind the MLS’ elite. And Bojan is only looking to find happiness as both a player and a man, a job that’s been difficult throughout his career.
But Bojan is not the adolescent version of himself, though he is not past his prime. This is a time where he is old enough to understand everything that comes with being but young enough to have the ability to act on it. Montreal might have seemed an unlikely chapter only a few short years back, but it is one he feels is appropriate. Stade Saputo might not be Camp Nou and Bojan might not be Messi but, to his mind, that is just fine.
“Sometimes you think about football and the majority of the time you consider private life,” he said. “To come away from the city, from your home, sometimes it isn’t easy to make that choice, but if you do it and you do this step, it will help you grow for a guy. I’m very satisfied with the decision I made in August to come to Montreal and play soccer in Montreal in this league.
“From the very first day when I came to Montreal, I believed that it was a particular town, a wonderful city with fine people,” he added. “I’m pleased to be there.”