Last week, I saw something I thought I would never see. The English media were saying that Bojan—our current No. 9—was ready to leave Barcelona, with Arsenal and Manchester United ready to pounce.
At first I thought the press had used their tried and tested formula of Barca player plus transfer move equals story and that it was untrue. However, as I came to discover, there was actually a hint of truth in the story.
Bojan’s agent had said:
“He is happy with his current situation, but we will re-evaluate the situation once the season is over."
The more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t blame him if he did leave.
Firstly, he is not playing week-in, week-out and—even though it is not his fault—he may blame himself. As a result of this, if he does come on as a substitute, he is too anxious to make amends.
This anxiety causes him to make bad decisions, scuff his shots, misplace his passes and generally play badly. Of course, displays like this will not help his cause; meaning the cycle continues and his performances do not get better.
Secondly, the messages that Guardiola has been sending him are mixed at best. Over the summer, Guardiola sent Ibrahimovic out on loan to AC Milan. This was a gutsy decision considering the price he paid for the Swede just 12 months earlier.
After Ibra left, Bojan was quoted as being “glad” that Ibrahimovic had disappeared, as it meant “more minutes” for him.
Now, no one can blame him for believing that, given the fact that Bojan benched Ibra at the end of the season. However, Pep clearly hasn’t felt the same way.
Bojan has only started three games this season, and you could argue that figure would be even lower if Messi hadn’t been injured and Villa not been sent off.
How can Guardiola go from starting Bojan instead of Ibra to not giving him any significant game time?
In the first leg of the Copa del Rey against AD Ceuta, Bojan was given the captain’s armband.
This heaped more pressure on the player who was/is going through a goal drought. Once again, how can Guardiola make Bojan captain for a day and not give him a chance in the domestic league?
Lastly, the mental aspect of football has become more crucial than ever. A player low on confidence will play badly, while a player with a lot of confidence will play much better.
Bojan has been low on confidence as of late, partly down to his goal drought, and partly because of the expectation that is placed upon him. If Bojan scores the winner in El Clasico for instance, his confidence will skyrocket and the goals will flow.
Maybe the best thing for Bojan to do is look for a loan move in January, to play regular first team football, and get the goals going again.
Or alternatively, Guardiola could show a little faith in the youngster and give Bojan much-needed game time alongside Lionel Messi and David Villa. And after his two against Almeria, why not?
Either way, I just hope he remains at Barca.
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