Ajax brought in fallen Barcelona star Bojan Krkic on loan knowing their academy, which had lost out to Feyenoord for the Best Dutch Youth Academy award four years in a row, was unlikely to nurture a graduate who could score 20 goals or more in the Eredivisie this season.
For Bojan, 23, joining Ajax meant one more opportunity to make it at an illustrious club after setbacks at Barcelona, AC Milan and Roma.
Cliff Notes On Bojan's Ajax Loan
- "We've added a very good player," Ajax manager Frank de Boer, a former Barcelona player, said, via UEFA.com. "I think he'll play right wing, but he can also be used as a left-winger or striker."
- Bojan has started five of eight games as a right forward in a 4-3-3.
- 137 players have scored in the Eredivisie this season; Bojan has yet to open his account.
- Goalless from 11 shots in 484 minutes of league-play; Lionel Messi took 75 minutes to score a hat-trick in a 4-0 win over Ajax.
- Bojan's shooting accuracy is below 50 percent (44).
- Tied with Christian Eriksen, who left during the season to join Tottenham Hotspur, for most league assists at Ajax (three).
- Bojan averages the same key passes per game (1.0) as Heracles Almelo left-back Jason Davidson.
- 22 Eredivisie players average more dribbles per game (1.5) than Bojan (1.4) including Tommy Oar of Utrecht (1.8).
- Five minutes into Bojan's first league start as a No. 9 against Go Ahead Eagles, he tore his hamstring. He was replaced by Kolbeinn Sigthorsson who went on to score twice in a 6-0 win.
- "Bojan has a tear in his left hamstring. This was revealed by an MRI scan on Tuesday morning," Ajax announced in a statement, via Sky Sports. "The attacker is expected to be out for four to six weeks."
- This happened on September 28, 2013 and it has now been eight weeks and counting since Bojan last played for Ajax.
Can Bojan Win Back His Starting Position?
When Bojan returns from injury, there are talented players vying for his starting spot but none of them have yet to make the right forward role their own.
Lucas Andersen, a lanky 19-year-old Dane, is still finding his feet at the top flight and has not scored in seven games.
Tobias Sana, a speedy 24-year-old Swedish international, who scored three goals and created another in his first three Eredivisie games last season, has done a Miralem Sulejmani—setting the bar so high, only to crumble under the weight of expectations.
Sana is currently getting his confidence back at Jong Ajax, Ajax's reserve team that compete in the Eerste Divisie, the Dutch second division.
Bojan's biggest threat is Lesley de Sa, a fleet-footed 20-year-old Jong Ajax player, who is highly rated by the Dutch youth international setup, having represented the Netherlands at U-15 to U-21 level.
He caused Go Ahead Eagles' left-back Xandro Schenk all sorts of problems, scoring and creating a goal in a 6-0 win for Ajax.
What Now For Bojan?
In order for Bojan to improve, he needs to want the ball at his feet.
Averaging 22.9 passes per game shows you how uninvolved he is throughout games.
Quincy Promes, a 21-year-old budding star for Twente, plays in the same position as Bojan, but makes more than twice the amount of passes per game (46.0).
The more touches Promes gets, the more confident he becomes hence why he is having a better season than Bojan.
|Statistically Comparing Bojan to Quincy Promes|
|Shots Per Goal||N/A||8.2|
|Key Passes Per Game||1.0||2.8|
|Dribbles Per Game||1.4||1.5|
When Bojan is in possession, he has shown glimpses of class.
In the illustration below, Bojan drags three Heerenveen players towards him, notices Rajiv van La Parra, a left sided forward, has not marked Eriksen, thus leaving the playmaker wide open.
Bojan makes the pass under duress and Eriksen shoots the ball past Heerenveen goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt for Ajax's third goal in a 3-3 draw.
The only person Bojan can blame for not receiving more passes is himself because Ajax lead the league in possession per game (62.8 percent).
He needs to demand the ball as opposed to being a spectator on the field.
When he has been in possession, he rarely gives the ball away, completing 85.2 percent of his passes.
He has the vision to accumulate more key passes per game.
It is worrying Bojan is not dominating in the Eredivisie, a league known for hyper-attacking play and inflated offensive statistics.
This is the same league where decent players such as Bjorn Vleminckx, Dmitri Bulykin, Jozy Altidore and Sanharib Malki all scored 20 league goals or more in the Eredivisie but would struggle in Europe's top four leagues.
Barca supporters should already know by now that Bojan is to their club what Javier Portillo was to Real Madrid.