After the tremendously sad passing of former Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova, La Masia graduates such as Leo Messi and Cesc Fabregas gave glowing eulogies about the tuition Vilanova gave to them in them whilst training at the famed Barcelona academy.
Many a fantastic player has started their carreer at the fabled "La Masia", although one player remains a bitter disappointment amongst all the success. Bojan Krkic, was a myth long before stepping onto the pitch as a fresh-faced 17-year-old. Coaches and scouts eagerly talked about a youngster who was breaking all of Lionel Messi's youth records, a certainty for Barcelona glory in the future.
A La Liga debut in 2007 at the age of 17 years and 19 days was swiftly followed by a Champions League debut, both setting records, as the youngster set about putting substance to the myth. His first goal coincided with a first start, against Villarreal, further increasing the hype.
Fast-forward seven years, and the hype surrounding the 23-year-old is barely audible. No longer satisfied with a squad role after four years at the Camp Nou, Bojan moved to Serie A side Roma, although under the terms of the deal the Spanish international would return to Barcelona for the 13/14 season if Roma decided not to execute a €28 million deal.
He failed to perform at Roma, featuring more as a substitute than a started, and it became clear that the price to retain Bojan was not going to be met. Bojan spent the 12/13 season on loan to AC Milan, although the framework of the previous deal was still in place. A lack of both goals and starts at the San Siro meant he returned to Barcelona at the start of this season, although immediately loaned out to Ajax.
Bojan has failed to ignite the significantly weaker Eredivise, despite Ajax being crowned champions. Four goals and three assists in seventeen starts represent a worrying return for the former wonder-kid. He is increasingly played out on the wings, highlighting a fall from grace for a player once tipped for stardom.
What is next for Bojan? There is an option to extend his loan at the Amsterdam ArenA for another year, and it will be intriguing to see if the Dutch champions choses to apply it. Liverpool have been tentatively linked with a £5 million move, and with Brendan Rodgers knack for turning good players into great players, the move would be favourable for Bojan.
At 23 it is too early to completely write off Bojan's carreer. His record of accolades dwarfs the majority of his peers, although individual accolades are limited to his youth career. What is clear is that Bojan will never be able to live up to the sky-high expectations placed on him by others. Munir El Haddadi, a mercurial striking talent set for a breakthrough in the near-future would do well to use Bojan's carreer as an example of how tough it is to impose yourself as a senior player at the Camp Nou.
Redemption is still possible, but for a youngster that offered so much, it is hard not to view Bojan's carreer so far a failure. With a solitary Spanish cap to his name, international appearances already look to be limited. Bojan should serve as a precautionary tale for youngster throughout football.
Hype and myth are nothing if they are not substantiated.
Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: http://gms.to/1a2u3KU