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How did record-breaking Bojan end up rotting on the bench at Stoke City?

One of Barcelona's most exciting prospects of recent years is now slugging it out in the second-tier of English football

Barcelona’s best exports are often asked the question – can they do it on a wet Tuesday night in Stoke?

Well, one of their most promising youngsters has answered that question over the last few years.


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Poor bloke

Getty - Contributor
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Poor bloke

Bojan was hailed as one of the club’s biggest transfer coups when he signed in 2014, but he’s largely failed to set the West Midlands alight.

He of course broke plenty of records at Barca; in fact, he remains their youngest player to ever feature in a La Liga game when he came on for Giovani dos Santos back in 2007.

He had just turned 17 and took the record from a certain Lionel Messi.

He even used to look like Lionel Messi

AFP
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He even used to look like Lionel Messi

It didn’t take him too long to net his first senior goal either – in a league match against Villarreal just a month after making his debut – while he scored in the Champions League in April 2008, making him the second youngest player to ever score in Europe’s top competition.

The dynamic youngster took the number 11 shirt for his second season – a big responsibility, considering he was still just 18 at that time.

He grew up in good company

AP:Associated Press
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He grew up in good company

But it all went a little pear-shaped when Pep came to town. 

Under Pep Guardiola, Bojan fell behind in the pecking order, made less appearances and began to grow frustrated with his place in the team.

He decided to swap Barca for Rome, signing for Roma in the summer of 2011 – with Barca placing a buy-back clause in his contract.

He was clearly still considered their man for the future.

It didn’t work out in Italy for Bojan

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It didn’t work out in Italy for Bojan

But Bojan’s one season in the Eternal City saw him net just seven goals in 37 games, and he was shipped of to AC Milan a year later.

His time in Milan wasn’t much better though, as he only managed three goals in 27 games before trying his luck in Holland with Ajax.

He failed to impress with the Dutch giants too, netting just five goals in 32 games.

Things started to look a little desperate for him. 

Bojan had a year at Ajax

Kenny Ramsay - The Sun Glasgow
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Bojan had a year at Ajax

Then came a move to The Potters.

Stoke fans will have been pinching themselves; European royalty, a Champions League winner and one of the most promising graduates of La Masia was joining their modest club.

But this season in his fifth with the club, and he’s in and out of the starting XI as Nathan Jones’ side are fighting it out in the Championship.

During his time at Stoke, he has scored 16 goals in 79 games.

Getty Images - Getty
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During his time at Stoke, he has scored 16 goals in 79 games.

Bojan would have looked at Xherdan Shaqiri’s time at Stoke and wince.

While he’s fighting for a top half finish in the second-tier, the Swiss international is in the promise land of the Premier League title with Liverpool.

While both were labelled as too good for Stoke, Bojan’s career is now looking very different from Shaqiri’s.

Ups and downs of the game

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Ups and downs of the game

Whether Bojan can work his way into another club in the Champions league remains to be seen.

For now, he remains stuck with Stoke, slugging it out among the teams hoping for a shot back in the Premier League.

It’s long way back to the big time.


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