More than a promise, it's now a certainty: Bojan Krkić is the latest football star to emerge from Barcelona's youth system.
The 19-year-old Spanish has shown time and again his fantastic talent and it's only a question of time before he becomes a regular starter in Barcelona's lineup. Guardiola is known to put faith on young players, giving them opportunities and helping them untap all their potential. If 2010 was Pedro's year, 2011 might well be Bojan's.
For the past three seasons, Bojan has been through a process of integration. He has been given his minutes (mostly coming into matches as a substitute during the second half) and, in those minutes, he has shown that he really is star material.
In 2009/2010, he played in 36 matches and scored 12 goals (including an amazing goal against Villareal). A wrong call from the referee stopped him from being the hero in Barcelona's semifinal against Inter in the Champions League.
But he really shouldn't worry too much about it: his career has just started and he'll have many more chances to shine and establish himself as a world-class footballer.
There's a fact, or rather a curiosity, about Bojan that must leave all Barcelona fans very hopeful: Bojan's early career has incredible similarities with that of the current best player in the world, Lionel Messi.
- For starters, they both play preferentially as wingers.
-In 2004, Messi become the youngest Barcelona player ever to play in a La Liga match. On 16 September 2007, Bojan (17 years, 19 days at the time) broke Messi's record.
-In 2005, Messi became the youngest Barcelona player ever to score a goal in a La Liga match. In 2007, Bojan broke this record. And guess who assisted him for his first goal in La Liga? Messi, of course.
-Both Messi and Bojan won two La Liga titles playing as rotation players (Messi in 2005 and 2006 and Bojan in 2009 and 2010).
-In 2009, Messi became the youngest top scorer in the history of the Champions League. In 2008, Bojan became the first player born in the 90s to score a goal in a Champions League match.
-In 2006, Messi became the youngest Argentinian ever to play for his national team. In 2008, Bojan would have become the youngest player ever to play for La Roja if he hadn't asked Luis Aragonés to be left out of the Euro 2008.
Just irrelevant coincidences?
I don't think so. Bojan Krkić is clearly following in the footsteps of his teammate Leo Messi.
It's too soon to predict whether or not Bojan will reach the same level as Messi. But one thing is for sure: he will be (in fact, he already is) a world-class footballer, one of the best in the world, and he will help Barcelona win trophies for many years to come.
Everything seems to go his way: he was formed in the best youth system in the world, he plays in the best team in the world with the best players in the world and his talent is in the best possible hands: Guardiola knows he has a diamond in his hands and he'll make sure Bojan will live up to all his potential (just like he did with Pedro).
Bojan knows he'll have, once again, incredibly tough competition for a spot in the lineup, but he recently said he welcomes that competition. He knows his potential and that, step by step, he'll gain his spot in Barcelona's lineup and establish himself as one of the greats in the football world.
Word of advice to football fans: watch out for Bojan Krkić, it's his time to shine!