Bojan Krkić Pérez (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈboʝaŋ ˈkiɾkitʃ ˈpeɾeθ]; Serbian Cyrillic: Бојан Кркић Перез [bǒjaŋ kr̩̂kitɕ]; born 28 August 1990), also known as simply Bojan, is a Spanish footballer who plays as a forward or winger for Stoke City.
Bojan began his career at Barcelona after progressing through the youth ranks at La Masia. His early promise saw him make his first-team debut at the age of 17 years and 19 days, breaking the record set by Lionel Messi. In his debut season, he scored 12 goals in 48 matches. In total, he spent four seasons at Camp Nou, scoring 41 goals in 162 games before he was sold in July 2011 to Italian side Roma for a fee of €12 million. While in Rome, he scored seven goals in 37 appearances in 2011–12 and then spent the 2012–13 on loan at Milan, where he scored three goals in 27 games.
Milan did not exercise their option of an additional €28 million to sign Bojan definitively, and so Barcelona re-signed him for €13 million. He spent the 2013–14 season on loan at Dutch club Ajax with whom he helped win the Eredivisie title. In July 2014, Bojan joined English club Stoke City for €1.8 million.
As a Spanish youth international, he won European Championships with the Under-17 team in 2007 and the Under-21 team in 2011, as well as earning his only cap for the senior team in 2008. He has also represented the Catalan national team seven times since 2007.
Bojan with Barcelona in 2008
|Full name||Bojan Krkić Pérez|
|Date of birth||28 August 1990|
|Place of birth||Linyola, Spain|
|Height||1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)|
|Playing position||Forward / Winger|
|2012–2013||→ Milan (loan)||19||(3)|
|2013–2014||→ Ajax (loan)||24||(4)|
|2017||→ Mainz 05 (loan)||11||(1)|
|2017–2018||→ Alavés (loan)||13||(0)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 22:18, 20 October 2018 (UTC)|
Born in Linyola, Lleida, Catalonia, to a Serbian father, Bojan Krkić Sr., who was a professional footballer for Serbian side OFK Beograd, and a Spanish mother, Maria Lluïsa Pérez, Bojan played for Barcelona's youth teams from 1999 to 2006. A quick striker with quite notable dribbling skills, it was reported that he scored over 900 goals for various youth teams since joining the club as an eight-year-old. He then played the 2006–07 season with the Barcelona B team until he signed a professional contract with the first team upon turning 17. Bojan played his first match with Barcelona on 24 April 2007, scoring a goal in a friendly match against Egyptian club Al Ahly SC.
On 16 September 2007 (at 17 years and 19 days), Bojan made his official debut for Barcelona against Osasuna, replacing Giovani dos Santos in the 78th minute and breaking Lionel Messi's record of the youngest Barcelona player to feature in a La Liga match. Three days later, he made his UEFA Champions League debut against Lyon, coming on at the 88th minute for Messi. He was, at the time, the youngest Barcelona player ever to feature in a Champions League game, at 17 years and 22 days. He made his second Champions League appearance on 2 October, coming on at the 81st minute for Ronaldinho against VfB Stuttgart. On 20 October 2007 (at 17 years and 53 days), Bojan made his first league start for Barcelona away to Villarreal and scored in the 25th minute. It was his first goal for the club's first team and it made him the youngest ever goalscorer for Barcelona in a league match.
Bojan scored his first ever Champions League goal on 1 April 2008 (at 17 years and 217 days) against Schalke 04, netting the only goal in the first (away) leg of the quarter-finals, making him the first person born in the 1990s to score in the Champions League and the second youngest player ever, behind Ghanaian forward Peter Ofori-Quaye, then playing for Olympiacos, who scored at the age of 17 years and 195 days. Bojan finished the season with a record of ten goals, breaking Raúl's record of most goals scored in a debut season.
Upon the departure of Gianluca Zambrotta, Bojan was handed the number 11 shirt. After 14 games (13 of which he entered as a substitute), Bojan ended a goal drought by netting a brace against Almería in a 2–0 victory. Despite featuring less compared to the previous season, Bojan helped Barcelona to their 19th La Liga title. He also aided Barcelona to their first Copa del Rey win in 11 years by scoring five goals in the competition, including one in the final against Athletic Bilbao. Bojan was an unused substitute in the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final against Manchester United, which Barcelona won 2–0 and saw them cap off a treble-winning campaign. Bojan's three goals in ten appearances throughout the competition saw him finish as the equal sixth-highest goalscorer for the season.
On the first day of the 2009–10 La Liga campaign against Atlético Madrid, Bojan scored a header in the 18th minute courtesy of a flick-on from Seydou Keita. Barcelona went on to win the game by a scoreline of 3–0. On 10 November, he scored twice in the second leg of the Copa del Rey against Cultural Leonesa, helping his team to a 5–0 victory. Coming off the bench as a late substitute for Andrés Iniesta, Bojan scored his first and only Champions League goal of the season against VfB Stuttgart. He began finding the net more often towards the end of the season; seven of his eight league goals for the season came from the last 12 games.
Bojan took the number 9 shirt after Zlatan Ibrahimović moved on loan to Milan. The season saw Bojan find himself behind Lionel Messi, Pedro and David Villa in the pecking order. In the match against Ceuta in the Copa del Rey, Bojan captained Barcelona for the first time in an official match. He came off of the bench against Almería to score the sixth and eighth goals in an 8–0 win and later came on against Real Madrid in El Clásico to set up the fifth goal for Jeffrén in a 5–0 win. In a La Liga match against Real Sociedad, Bojan again came off the bench to score the fifth goal in 5–0 win. He scored a crucial league goal from a Dani Alves assist for Barcelona against Sevilla in a 1–1 draw, then marked his 100th league appearance for the Catalan club with a goal against Getafe.
On 22 July 2011, Italian club Roma bought Bojan for a fee of €12 million. The sale includes a buyback clause giving Barcelona the option to re-sign Bojan in 2012 or obligatory in 2013, although with the option of Roma paying an additional €28 million to retain the player. He made his unofficial debut on 3 August 2011 against Vasas in Budapest. He scored his first goal from an assist from Daniele De Rossi for Roma against Atalanta on 1 October 2011. He made 33 league appearances for Roma in his first season with the club, scoring seven times in total.
On 29 August 2012, Bojan joined Milan on a season-long loan from Roma. Barcelona later announced that the move would not affect the prior buyback agreement between Roma and them. Milan CEO Adriano Galliani, however, stated that a new agreement was worked out so that Milan have an option to sign the player at the end of the season, but Barcelona would still retain their buyback option. Bojan made his debut for Milan on 1 September, coming off the bench during the second half of a 3–1 away win over Bologna. He scored his first goal for Milan against Chievo on 3 November 2012, the third of a 5–1 win at the San Siro.
Following the 2012–13 season in Italy, Bojan returned to his former club Barcelona for €13 million, having made 19 league appearances for Milan, and scoring three goals. He revealed his desire for more playing time, or otherwise interest to play for a club where he will receive more minutes. Milan decided not to extend their loan of the young player, as they were not able to guarantee him minutes, while Roma did not exercise their option of additional €28 million to sign Bojan definitively. He was free to find an alternative club to play for if he pleased, and talks began with Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV.
On 6 July 2013, it was announced that Ajax had signed Bojan on a one-year loan deal, with an option for a second year loan spell from Barcelona. Marc Overmars and Michael Kinsbergen flew into Barcelona a day prior to finalize the deal. Bojan explained that conversations with Johan Cruyff had influenced his decision to move to Ajax, as well as the opportunity to play in the Champions League. Bojan made his debut for his new club on 13 July 2013 in a pre-season friendly encounter against RKC Waalwijk. The match ended in a 5–1 victory for Ajax at the Mandemakers Stadion, as he was substituted on for Danny Hoesen in the 60th minute, assisting Boban Lazić in the final goal for the Amsterdam side in the closing minutes of the game. He scored his first goal for Ajax in another pre-season friendly encounter, this time against Werder Bremen on 19 July 2013, scoring the second goal for Ajax in the 43rd minute in the 3–2 away win in Germany.
On 27 July 2013, Bojan won his first trophy with Ajax, winning the Johan Cruyff Shield (Dutch Super Cup) against AZ, 3–2 after extra time. He started the match on the right wing, playing for 61 minutes before being substituted off for Lucas Andersen, as Ajax acquired their eighth Dutch Super Cup title overall. Following a hamstring injury sustained on 29 September 2013 in a 6–0 victory over Go Ahead Eagles, Bojan scored his first regular season goal after eight weeks of absence on 1 December 2013 in a 4–0 victory in The Hague over ADO Den Haag in the 90th minute of the match. On 8 May 2014, it was announced that Ajax would waive the option to extend Bojan's contract, with Bojan returning to Barcelona, having scored four goals in 24 regular season matches (5 goals in 32 matches overall) and helping Ajax to secure their 33rd title and fourth consecutive.
On 22 July 2014, Bojan signed a four-year contract with Premier League side Stoke City for €1.8 million. Manager Mark Hughes said, "Anyone who knows European football will be aware of him as a player and the fact that he sees his future at Stoke City is really exciting."
Bojan scored his first goal for Stoke in a 2–1 friendly defeat against Schalke 04 on 29 July 2014. He also scored in friendlies against Blackburn Rovers and Real Betis. He made his league debut at home on 16 August, playing the full 90 minutes of a 1–0 defeat to Aston Villa. BBC Sport said that Bojan "impressed" for Stoke in the match. However, after a couple of ineffective performances, Hughes stated that he was prepared to give Bojan time to adapt to English football. He returned to the starting line-up on 1 November 2014 in a 2–2 draw against West Ham United. Eight days after that, he scored his first Stoke goal to open a 2–1 win at Tottenham Hotspur, a dribble followed by a shot from outside the penalty area. On 6 December 2014, Bojan scored in a 3–2 win over Arsenal. On 26 December, he won a contested penalty in the first half at Goodison Park when referee Lee Mason declared that he had been fouled by Everton's James McCarthy; Bojan then converted the spot-kick past Tim Howard for the only goal of the game. Bojan scored in a 1–0 victory against Leicester City on 17 January 2015. Nine days later, he scored his fifth goal of the season in a 4–1 victory in the FA Cup fourth round against Rochdale, but was later substituted having suffered a knee injury which ruled him out for the remainder of the 2014–15 season.
Bojan returned from injury in July 2015 playing in a pre-season friendly against Brentford. He made his first league start for over eight months on 19 September 2015, scoring in a 2–2 draw against Leicester. A month later, he won a fourth-minute penalty when fouled by Swansea City's Ashley Williams, and dispatched it past Łukasz Fabiański for the only goal of the game at the Liberty Stadium. Bojan signed a new contract with Stoke in February committing him to the club until the summer of 2020. Towards the end of the campaign, however, he lost his place in the side, spending most of his time on the bench. In total, he played 31 times for Stoke in 2015–16, scoring seven goals as the Potters finished in ninth position.
Bojan struggled for playing time under Hughes in 2016–17 starting just five league matches in six months and in January 2017, Bojan admitted he would be ready to leave Stoke in order to gain regular football.
On 29 January 2017, Bojan joined Bundesliga side Mainz 05 on loan for the remainder of the 2016–17 season. Mainz were struggling in a relegation battle at the bottom of the table and Bojan admitted he was surprised at their situation. He scored his first goal for Mainz in a 2–2 against Bayern Munich, making him only the seventh player to score in the four top leagues in Europe. Bojan helped Mainz secure their Bundesliga status with a 4–2 win against Eintracht Frankfurt on 13 May 2017.
Bojan shot to prominence as a 15-year-old at the UEFA European Under-17 Championship in Luxembourg in May 2006 when he was joint top-scorer. He achieved this despite being a year younger than most of the other players in the tournament and only playing 40 minutes in four out of five of Spain under-17's matches. He scored a hat-trick against Luxembourg before inspiring his side to a 3–0 victory over the eventual champions Russia, with all of the goals of the game being scored with him on the pitch as a second-half substitute. In the third match of the tournament, he scored a penalty after once again being introduced at half time. He started the semi-final against the Czech Republic but, after his teammate Roberto García was sent off, Spain struggled and lost 2–0 in a shock result. In the third-place play-off, Bojan was once again a second-half substitute and scored the opener in the 53rd minute. When the match went to penalties, he scored and Spain won 5–4 to finish third. In the 2007 European Under-17 Football Championship, Bojan led Spain to victory scoring the only goal against England in the final. He also scored in the semi-final against Belgium.
There was controversy surrounding Bojan's call up to the Spain U-17 squad for the 2007 Under-17 World Cup in South Korea, because Barcelona wanted to keep him so that he could be part of their Asian tour. The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) denied the request and further controversy arose when the RFEF denied one of Barcelona's medics, Ricard Pruna, the opportunity to accompany Bojan to the tournament to monitor a tendon problem in the player's knee.
During the tournament, Bojan scored five goals, finishing as joint third top scorer along with Germany and Bayern Munich midfielder Toni Kroos. He was inspirational in leading Spain to the final. In the semi-final against Ghana, however, Bojan was sent off for his second yellow card with only seconds left to play. He was suspended for the final and Spain lost to Nigeria on penalties. Because of his performances, Bojan was given the Adidas Bronze Ball, naming him the third best player in the tournament, behind Macauley Chrisantus (silver) and Toni Kroos (gold).
Bojan scored for the Spanish under-21s in their 2–0 win over Poland on 12 October 2007, quickly establishing himself as an important player, also prompting rumours of an eventual call-up from senior side's manager Luis Aragonés. Bojan was selected in the squad for the 2009 UEFA Under-21 Championship. The Spanish team, however, underperformed and picked up one point from their first two games, leaving progression almost impossible.
Bojan was called up to the Spain U-21 squad for 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship.
Bojan was approached to play for Serbia in 2008 but declined because of his wish to play for Spain. He was included in the Spanish squad for a friendly game against France on 6 February 2008. Should he have featured in that match, Bojan would have made history by becoming the youngest player ever to represent Spain at 17 years, 5 months and 9 days, eclipsing Ángel Zubieta's record of 17 years and 9 months, which had stood for over 70 years. Bojan, however, fell ill and could not play.
However, in an interview with The Guardian in May 2018, he revealed that he missed both his international debut and UEFA Euro 2008 because of anxiety issues, covering it up by giving other reasons he could not play. Bojan claims that his mental health issues were well-known by members of the Spanish Football Federation, such as first team coach Luis Aragonés, sporting director Fernando Hierro and teammate Carles Puyol.
He made his full Spanish debut on 10 September 2008 (at 18 years and 13 days) under Vicente del Bosque against Armenia, where he came on during the last ten minutes for Santi Cazorla and played on the right wing for what currently remains his only senior international appearance for Spain.
Bojan made his official debut with Catalonia in the friendly match against the Basque Country on 29 December 2007 in Bilbao; he scored the Catalan goal in the 1–1 draw. He also scored a year later on 29 December 2008 in the 2–1 win over Colombia and in the 4–2 win against Argentina on 22 December 2009. He scored twice and also provided two assists in a 4–0 win against Honduras on 29 December 2010.
On 18 May 2018, The Guardian published an interview with Bojan, documenting his struggles with anxiety over the course of his career.
“In footballing terms [my career] went well but not personally. [...] There are lots of things that people didn’t know. I didn’t go to the 2008 European Championship because of anxiety issues but we said I was going on holiday. I was called up for Spain against France, my international debut, and it was said that I had gastroenteritis when I had an anxiety attack. But no one wants to talk about that. Football’s not interested"
|Barcelona B||2006–07||Segunda División B||22||10||—||—||—||—||22||10|
|Milan (loan)||2012–13||Serie A||19||3||2||0||—||6[a]||0||—||27||3|
|Stoke City||2014–15||Premier League||16||4||1||1||1||0||—||—||18||5|
|Stoke City U23||2016–17||—||—||—||—||—||1[h]||1||1||1|
|Mainz 05 (loan)||2016–17||Bundesliga||11||1||0||0||—||—||—||11||1|
|Alavés (loan)||2017–18||La Liga||13||0||2||1||—||—||—||15||1|