Let's retrace what went wrong for Bojan.
Then Spanish U-17 manager Juan Santisteban, a teammate of Alfredo Di Stéfano during Real Madrid's dynasty, selected 15-year-old Bojan for the 2006 Euro U-17s despite the teenager being at a physical and emotional disadvantage.
Bojan scored five times as Spain finished third.
A year later, he was pivotal in Spain's 2007 Euro U-17 triumph and took home UEFA's Golden Player of the Year award, beating out Toni Kroos, Eden Hazard and Yann M'Vila.
Over Santisteban's coaching career, he witnessed world-class talents like Sergio Santamaría, David Rodríguez and Jonathan Soriano fall by the wayside.
Though, Santisteban was convinced Bojan would make a smooth transition to the senior level.
"I've never seen such quality and imagination in a player," Santisteban remarked, via Paul Saffer at UEFA.com. "Bojan will be one of the best in Europe and we can expect a lot from him."
Described as a "treasure" by former Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard, Bojan netted 12 times in his one and only season under Rijkaard.
Lionel Messi was no longer the club's youngest ever goalscorer—it was Bojan, who had scored and played more games in one season than Messi's first two seasons combined.
This is why the hype and expectation levels for Bojan were taken to the nth degree.
But he couldn't handle it, as documented by Sid Lowe at The Guardian:
Bojan would have been the youngest Spain player ever, at 17 years, five months and nine days. But he suffered a dizzy spell and pulled out. It had all the hallmarks of an anxiety attack.
Last summer he asked not to be taken to the European Championship, admitting that he was 'physically and emotionally shattered.'
Rijkaard's successor Pep Guardiola didn't have a high opinion of Bojan.
"Pep doesn’t just give you orders, he also explains why," Gerard Piqué once said, via Graham Hunter at FourFourTwo.com.
Guardiola wanted Bojan to play with Barça B as opposed to starting at irregular intervals and being an impact sub for the first team.
It was sound thinking from Guardiola, but Bojan featured in 48 games the season before so he was headstrong about his prospects and refused.
In the limited minutes he was afforded, he didn't force Guardiola into a selection conundrum.
Bojan was goalless in his first 14 league games, all of which were sub-affected, under Guardiola.
Things weren't going to change anytime soon.
"I need games like Getafe to continue believing in myself and feeling important to the team," Bojan said on March 20, 2011, via Edgar Fornós at FCBarcelona.cat. "One of the factors that has helped me to reach 100 games was not to lose hope."
Twenty-one days later, Bojan sustained knee ligament damage.
He played two more games, warmed the bench in the 2011 Champions League final win over Manchester United before being offloaded to Roma.
|LEAGUE ONLY||Bojan's Percentage of Minutes Played|
"I didn't say goodbye to Pep, only those who treated me well," Bojan revealed, via Guillem Balague's book Pep Guardiola: Another Way of Winning. "The relationship with Pep wasn't a very good one."
Is Guardiola at fault for Bojan's misfortune? No.
Zlatan Ibrahimović scored 21 times, registered 13 assists while telling Guardiola, from I am Zlatan via La Gazzetta dello Sport: "I'm a Ferrari, but you are driving me as if I were a Fiat."
Don't blame Guardiola as Bojan played 4,927 minutes from 2008-09 to 2010-11, meaning there were enough opportunities.
Choking right in front of goals in that UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg against Inter Milan will regrettably define his Barcelona career.
He had the option to sign with Getafe but opted for Roma with compatriot Luis Enrique at the helm.
Whatever Enrique promised, Bojan never eventuated.
He wasn't going to start up front as Francesco Totti and Pablo Osvaldo were better options.
Meanwhile, Erik Lamela and Fabio Borini were making the wide forward role their own.
Unsurprisingly, Bojan made more appearances off the bench (20) than Serie A starts (13).
If he couldn't start the entirety of the season for seventh place Roma, what made him think he could start regularly for AC Milan, a team that finished 24 points ahead of the Rome-based club?
Last season, Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri gave 22 players more Serie A starts than Bojan.
He went with Milan out of pride, just like choosing Ajax over Real Betis.
"We have to bring in a forward," Betis manager Pepe Mel said, via Football Espana. "Have I asked for anyone? Just Bojan."
Mel transformed Dorlan Pabón, who didn't score at all for Parma, to a player that had stretches of brilliance with eight goals and three assists for the Béticos.
What Rijkaard said in 2008, via Sid Lowe at The Guardian, "Bojan always makes the right decisions," doesn't apply anymore.
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