Once dubbed as the next generational talent to emerge from Barcelona's La Masia academy, Bojan Krkic has had a strange and meandering fall from prominence.
Eyebrows were raised when the Spaniard signed for Stoke as part of a conscious effort to change the club's footballing philosophy that involved signing as many former Barca youngsters as possible, but the early signs suggested that a player like Bojan may thrive as the centre of attention under Mark Hughes.
That early promise would not last long, and soon a player who has made over 100 appearances for Barcelona was sitting on the bench at the Bet365 Stadium.
With his contract expiring, a loan move offered Bojan the chance to prove that he is still a worthwhile talent to a club in one of Europe's top leagues, as he had options from La Liga, The Bundesliga, and the Premier League. He also had Brendan Rodgers trying to convince him to join his wave of positivity up in Glasgow.
Bojan joins Mainz on loan despite interest from Boro, Watford, Celtic & Spain. Open letter to Stoke fans is class https://t.co/hhbu4LOov9
— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) January 29, 2017
In the end, he opted for Mainz in the Bundesliga, and it has been an absolute disaster.
The club lost 1-0 to Freiburg on Saturday, their 5th consecutive loss in a row. When Bojan arrived, Mainz were enjoying mid-table mediocrity and were not expecting a relegation battle, but after a catastrophic run of results they now find themselves staring the drop in the face. Unthinkable for a club that finished 6th last season.
These results are absolutely not all Bojan's fault, but his arrival has coincided with a drastic loss of form that nobody saw coming, and his role in the side is not what was initially expected. In Mainz's costly loss to Ingolstadt the week before last, Bojan was an unused sub, and against Freiburg at the weekend he played only the final 10 minutes.
Mainz's sharp decline has come as a surprise to many, including the Spaniard who expressed that while speaking to the media recently. [via StokeSentinel.co.uk]
I was not expecting this situation at all, but it is football. I do not think about anything other than scoring points and the next game.
When you are in a situation like this, it is not pleasant for anyone - not the players, not the coach, not the club. But it is a situation where we have to transmit positive thoughts between us. We have to be united.
It seems clear that he will be looking for a new club again as Mainz are unlikely to take him on considering his wages and what he has contributed thus far.
Presumably you would think that Brendan Rodgers is still interested, and if that is the case, a player like Bojan could be an excellent signing for the Scottish champions.
Had he elected to join on loan in January, Bojan would have lifted a trophy while playing in a side that wins every week and will likely play Champions League football again next season. Throw in the special Celtic Park atmosphere that Leo Messi is always banging on about, and you'd have to imagine that Bojan is sitting in Germany ruing a missed opportunity.
He would be free, and while he was playing well in the Premier League pundits would regularly fawn over his clear talent and quality on the ball, but it seems that for whatever reason he just can't settle. If Brendan comes calling again in the summer his request for a discussion will likely be welcomed with more warmth, but it remains to be seen if the club will pursue him. He has reportedly been in discussions with Espanyol, although he has publicly denied those links.
I want to clarify that, contrary to reports in some of the press, I haven't offered myself to any clubs, including RCD Espanyol. 1/2
— Bojan Krkic (@BoKrkic) April 11, 2017
I'm under contract at Stoke City and right now I am just focused on helping Mainz and continuing to work hard until my loan is up. 2/2
— Bojan Krkic (@BoKrkic) April 11, 2017
It's crazy to think that someone who has played for the likes of Barcelona, AS Roma, AC Milan, and Ajax, and is still only 26, could face such a crossroads in their career, but there is a lot of uncertainty over the future of Bojan Krkic.