When Bojan Krkić broke onto the scene with Barcelona, many expected the Spaniard to establish himself as a first-team regular for years to come. After all, the diminutive playmaker became Barcelona’s youngest ever player to score a goal in league action when he found the back of the net against Villarreal. Despite his flashy start, it just wasn’t meant to be for the hometown boy.
After four seasons, Bojan left the club in 2011 and joined Roma. What ensued in the following years for the Spaniard was a series of failed loan spells, culminating in his most recent move to MLS side Montreal Impact. This scout report and tactical analysis will delve deeper into Bojan’s game and will demonstrate where the former Barca man will slot in Rémi Garde’s tactics.
Style of Play
Bojan is capable of playing a wide variety of positions within the front-line but is at his best when playing as the side’s out-and-out attacking midfielder. The 28-year-old is your classic number ten and enjoys the freedom the role offers him. Behind the striker, Bojan is able to operate between the lines and use his vision to fashion openings for his teammates. The attacking midfielder is at his best when he’s consistently on the move combining quickly with teammates.
Below is the former Barca man’s heat map of his last season with Stoke. While he was largely deployed centrally as a supporting striker, his desire to stray wide is evident.
It’s not uncommon to see Bojan temporarily on the wing if he thinks he can create a numerical advantage in his side’s favour. Overloads, a common tactic used by Bojan’s first manager Pep Guardiola, are clearly something the playmaker values and looks to use to gain an edge.
By occupying the wide areas, he offers opposition defences no point of reference and could make the most of his wide range of passing. Bojan is also comfortable dropping deep if he feels the need. Pictured below is the Spaniard dropping between the double pivot of Joe Allen and Oghenekaro Etebo. Prior to this point, Stoke were struggling to get forward and were largely pegged back by Rotherham United.
As the side’s trequartista, Bojan regularly picks up the ball near the half-way line as he is proficient at dictating the tempo. From here, he is able to spray passes to his wide men or play his striker to feet. With the Impact struggling to create following large spells of possession, Bojan’s innovation from deep will be welcomed.
Focal Point in the final third
While his English adventure didn’t exactly prove fruitful, Bojan, at 28 years old, still has a lot to give. In his last season in England, his passing numbers were down and the Spaniard averaged a mere 0.4 key passes per game. This, however, could be attributed to a number of factors.
For one, when you think of a La Masia graduate you don’t exactly think of Stoke City as an ideal destination. Bojan is clearly not suited to the rigours of English football and was often pushed off the ball with ease. In fact, he only played the full ninety minutes on two occasions in all competitions last season. In Montreal, the 28-year-old will be given a chance to regain confidence and establish himself as the focal point of the team once more.
Currently, the Montreal Impact lack players of Bojan’s ilk and could use his creativity ahead of their playoff push. When the former Barca man is tasked with pulling the strings in the final third, the playmaker is at his best. As the side’s attacking midfielder, Bojan can hurt the opposing defences and has an uncanny ability to play a killer ball.
Pictured below is Bojan doing what he does best: create. Here, Bojan is driving Stoke City forward on the counter. Rather than trying to beat his man, the Spaniard hesitates with a simple body feint, allowing James McClean to continue his run. The moment Bojan sees McClean has his man beat for the pace the Spaniard slides him through into space.
The Irish international would square it across goal to an onrushing Sam Clucas. And like that, Stoke were ahead 2-0. The Montreal Impact will be hoping for more of this from their latest signing.
While Bojan is dangerous with the ball at his feet, it’s his off-the-ball movement that makes him an effective player. When the Spaniard is not in possession he is regularly moving in and out of pockets of space. Whether he’s coming close to support his teammates or stretching the pitch completely, Bojan is rarely static.
Clearly influenced by his La Masia upbringing, Bojan understands that chances are created by generating space. Both for himself and for his teammates. What’s arguably more impressive, however, is Bojan’s movement directly after he plays a pass. The midfielder is extremely quick at unmarking himself after he relinquishes possession to his teammate and is typically open for a return ball. However, Bojan is currently passive and needs to demand more of the ball as he did earlier in his career. The Spaniard is regularly but doesn’t always call for it.
Regardless, Bojan is capable of easily finding pockets of open space for himself by constantly moving. Below, you can see the 28-year-old between Blackburn’s defensive midfielder and centre-halves. The former Barca man regularly occupies this type of position.
After a couple of passes, Bojan found himself alone in possession with space. While nothing came from the attack, it was just one example where Bojan’s movement and positional awareness granted him an advantage.
Building around Bojan
To get the most out of Bojan, Garde will have to deploy the Spaniard at the heart of his attack alongside Ignacio Piatti. Currently, Garde’s men are struggling in the final third and could frankly use the shakeup. Whether it’s in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-4-1-1, it won’t change much, as long as Bojan is the Montreal Impact’s number ten.
With Saphir Taider in the midfield behind him and Piatti ahead of him, Bojan will feel right at home. Once Bojan is fully integrated into the team, expect the trio to interchange positions rather often. As the side’s playmaker, Bojan will have the freedom to drift around the pitch all-while using his vision to create chances.
With the Impact going into a crucial stretch in the season, the addition of Bojan could not come sooner. For the Spaniard, on the other hand, a move to Montreal will be a welcomed move. The playmaker’s career was stalling in England and he desperately needed a change of scenery. Considering he will likely be the Montreal Impact’s main man in the final third, expect Bojan to relish the challenge and take Major League Soccer by storm.
This analysis demonstrated where Bojan will fit in the Impact’s set up moving forward. In his brief cameo against the Chicago Fire, the Montreal faithful got glimpses of what’s to come from the Spaniard, but will have to wait for more. Can Bojan be the catalyst behind a late-season playoff push?
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