Forgotten Barcelona Man Bojan Krkic Can Salvage Career at Ambitious Stoke City

Ian Rodgers@irodgers66World Football Staff WriterJuly 12, 2014

FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi from Argentina, right, reacts after scoring with fellow team member Bojan Krkic against Panathinaikos during a Group D Champions League first leg soccer match at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2010. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
MANU FERNANDEZ/Associated Press

Stoke-on-Trent might not have the allure of other great English cities such as London, Manchester and Liverpool, but for one forgotten figure of European football, it could become his salvation.

According to the Stoke Sentinel newspaper, Potters manager Mark Hughes has held talks with Barcelona forward Bojan Krkic over a possible season-long loan move to the club.

The La Masia graduate introduced himself to the Barcelona first team in style as he converted the winning goal in the Champions League quarter-final against Schalke in April 2008.

Frank Augstein/Associated Press

Even before that goal, Krkic had made his name at Camp Nou by beating Lionel Messi's record as the youngest player to feature for the senior team when he came on as a substitute for Giovani dos Santos in a La Liga match against Osasuna—at the tender age of 17 years and 19 days.

Days later, Krkic went on to become the youngest Barcelona player to make a Champions League appearance when he stepped off the bench against Lyon.

Born to a Serbian father, Krkic opted to play for the country of his mother and made an impact on the 2006 European Under-17 Championship, where he became top scorer in the tournament for Spain, aged 15.

Comparisons with Messi were to follow, but the downfall of Krkic came with the arrival of Pep Guardiola to replace Frank Rijkaard as head coach at Barcelona.

As Bleacher Report La Liga writer Paul Wilkes wrote:

In came Pep Guardiola, who was not pleased at Bojan's refusal to return to the B team the previous season when Guardiola was coach.

Under Guardiola, in Bojan's second season, he featured in eight fewer league games than in his previous season, and it was the same story in his third. Bojan played more under Rijkaard than for any manager since.

And The Guardian's Ian McCourt noted that Krkic was not a fan of Guardiola.

The player is quoted as saying:

As a fan, Guardiola is the best coach in the world, but personal things that have happened to me [that] were hurtful.

He was not fair with me on several occasions, and this is one of the reasons that I decided to leave.

In July 2011, Krkic moved to Roma before being loaned out to AC Milan, and he was re-signed by Barcelona in the summer of 2013, as the La Liga giants exercised a buy-back clause in the deal with Roma.

Again, though, the youngster was farmed out on loan to Ajax last season, but if Krkic does choose Stoke as his next destination, he could find himself in the right place.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - MAY 11:  Marko Arnautovic (L) and Marc Muniesa of Stoke City  celebrate an own goal by Gareth McAuley of West Bromwich Albion (not pictured) during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City at T
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Hughes has already proven that he can work with players perceived as being difficult, following the arrival of Marko Arnautovic from Werder Bremen last year.

John Drayton of the Daily Mail noted that the Austrian forward had a "troubled" spell at Inter Milan under former manager Jose Mourinho.

But Hughes brought out the best in Arnautovic last season, with the player returning to form at the Britannia Stadium.

The former Manchester City manager will now be looking for the same results from Krkic, who—at 23—still has time on his side to prove his worth.


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