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Stuart Harper On June - 24 - 2011

Barca’s Bojan To Roma: A Very Calculated Risk

This week, and with little fanfare, Marco Boriello officially became a Roma player with the capital club paying Milan €10m to make his loan spell permanent. Simultaneously, speculation abounded about Bojan Krkic joining Giallorossi ranks in a convoluted agreement with his current employers, FC Barcelona.

But while Borriello’s formal acquisition went almost under the radar, perplexed tifosi discussed the mechanics of the proposed ‘Bojan deal’ and indeed the merits of Barca’s diminutive forward.

Talk of Krkic as a ‘Nou Camp reject’ peppered internet discussions this week but fans subscribing to this notion could benefit from a little perspective. Firstly, one must remember that Bojan is two months shy of his 21st birthday and in his position - attacking midfield/striker - he has ahead of him arguably football’s most revered array of talent.

For the Catalan side, nearly every one of last season’s games were the proverbial ‘cup final’. A relentless Real Madrid contrived to keep Barcelona honest until the last few games of the campaign and under such pressure Pep Guardiola had little choice but to field his strongest eleven in almost every game.

Therefore, the storied triumvirate of Xavi, Iniesta and Messi monopolised the midfield berths while the small matter of David Villa commandeered the role of striker. Compound this complication with the coach’s aversion to playing two recognised strikers in tandem and one can see that Bojan is no reject, merely a victim of a remarkable circumstance.

When deployed by Guardiola, Krkic proves to be a persistent goal threat. Trawl ‘You tube’ and you will find a compilation of Bojan’s goals, the most remarkable feature of which is the variety of finishes on show. Strikes with both feet, headed goals and successful efforts from a variety of ranges suggest Bojan possesses that all important commodity - a striker’s instinct.

Of course, some will inevitably ask, if Bojan is so good and Barcelona lack squad depth, why are they willing to lose him to Roma? The answer to which is multi-faceted.

Firstly, if Barcelona secures all of their primary transfer targets this summer, the question of depth will be answered by the acquisition of already established talent. Udinese’s Alexis Sanchez, Villareal’s Guiseppe Rossi and Cesc Fabregas of Arsenal are all on Guardiola’s shopping list. If they all arrive the void created by Bojan’s departure will be handsomely filled and, should Krkic remain, his playing time would be diminished even further.

Undoubtedly, Barca are masters in developing and nurturing talent and clearly they understand that Bojan simply cannot mature while ensconced as a Nou Camp substitute. Thus, a willingness to release Bojan with an option to purchase him back gives the Catalan’s the best of both worlds. Krkic will get all important playing/developmental time and critically it will be under the tutelage of Luis Enrique, a product and proponent of the Barcelona ideology.

In terms of the deal itself, some Romanisti are not happy that a stellar talent could be lost should Krkic excel, and conversely, Roma could be lumbered with a failure should the experiment fail. For the former possibility, Roma can only benefit from two years (the primary contract length) with Bojan performing well, and profit to the tune of €5m if Barcelona activate the buy-back clause at €15m.

If Krkic fails to acclimatise to life in Serie A (as with any other acquisition),one has to consign the episode to experience. After Adriano and Baptista, the Curva Sud has witnessed enough to know that not all purchases pan out favourably but, unlike the aforementioned Brazilians, a sound work ethic underpins Krkic’s ethos and will compensate for other deficiencies in his game.

Speaking of which, an all important feature of Barcelona’s modus operandi has been a willingness to feverishly press opponents when not in possession of the ball and should Krkic sign, tifosi will notice urgency and energy from Krkic, a stark contrast and a worthy foil to the often apathetic Borriello and Vucinic, adding a new dimension to a somewhat pedestrian frontline.

Graduating through Barca’s youth system to inherit Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s shirt number is no mean feat. Physically, Krkic certainly needs to develop but under Enrique, a player noted for his stamina, there is no doubt that the physicality issue will be addressed. Furthermore, Roma’s new coach is sympathetically positioned to help develop his protégé given that the coach functioned in a near identical role to Krkic and was no man mountain himself.

Roma can only profit from the Bojan experiment proving a success. By no stretch is he yet the finished article but he offers a new facet to Roma’s forward play. Sitting on the shoulder of the last man, making intelligent, well timed runs is a Bojan trademark. Then, when the opposition has possession, he will harry and hound, such mobility a welcome change for the Giallorossi.

Figuratively, if Roma are only ‘borrowing’ Bojan, then it will mean we will witness two very positive seasons from the forward and as the saying goes, it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Stuart Harper

Freelance sports writer covering football, calcio & futbol. A Villa, Roma & Barca fan. Cycling too.

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