Having followed the Argentine out of Barcelona's academy system, the Stoke forward admits that he struggled to handle the weight of expectation

Thursday, 6th December 2018 04:21:00 PM

There have been numerous players billed as ‘the new Lionel Messi’ down the years, with former Barcelona star Bojan Krkic admitting that he struggled under the pressure of that tag.

Having followed the mercurial Argentine out of the famed La Masia academy system in Catalunya, big things were expected of the exciting frontman.

Bojan did net 12 times during a breakthrough campaign in 2007-08, and reached double figures in each of his first three seasons as a senior star.

"My first year I scored 10 goals in La Liga. Then people started saying yeah, the new Messi.

"You can do nothing about this. In the end, I know my qualities and I know Im not Messi. Im Bojan. If people say this guy was not the new Messi, yeah I was not the new Messi."

Bojan added of a moniker which followed him to Italy after leaving Barca for Roma: "Its not easy.

"Messi scores three goals every game. If you score one goal, youre not Messi. When I went to Rome and Milan, you go there not as Bojan, you go as a new star, a new Messi.

"So if you go there and play good, its not enough. You need to be the best, you need to be the Messi. Thats the thing that didnt help me.

"At the beginning its difficult to understand but with experience you know what you can do."

Bojan did win three La Liga titles, two Champions League crowns and the Club World Cup during his time at Barca and made over 160 appearances for the club.

He did, however, slip slowly down the pecking order under Pep Guardiola and was eventually left with little choice but to move on.

"When I was there, you never imagine playing with another team or living in another city," said Bojan.

"When I made the decision, I went with my head, not my heart. My heart said here is your home, its your place.

"You dont know that after Barcelona there is a really nice world. I opened the door to say thank you and Im going to do my own way.

"When you open and see the many things waiting for you, at the start youre scared. A different shirt, fans, culture and mentality. But when you make this decision, the first step, then you feel really proud."

Bojan has struggled to find a spark since leaving Camp Nou, with spells at Roma, AC Milan and Ajax followed by a switch to Stoke in 2014.

He spent the second half of the 2016-17 campaign out on loan at Mainz and last season back in Spain with Alaves.

Stoke have, however, welcomed him back onto their books this season, with a man once tipped for the very top now turning out in the Championship and hoping to steer a course back to the Premier League.

Source : Goal.com

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