Stoke City manager Mark Hughes is not at all surprised by Bojan Krkic’s impressive pre-season form, backing the high-profile new signing to push on and prove his doubters wrong.
Signed from Barcelona last month for an undisclosed fee, Bojan has grabbed three goals in three games so far this summer, with the latest coming in the 2-0 midweek win over Real Betis, his outing earning a standing ovation from the Britannia crowd.
One considered one of the brightest prospects in European football, the forward’s arrival has been greeted with considerable excitement at the club and Hughes believes his recent performances are just a taste of what’s to come.
‘Good players are very quickly able to adapt to any environment they are in,’ he told reporters.
‘I think that's what’s happened with Bojan. He's showing the undoubted ability that everyone knows he's got, so we're really looking forward to him having an exceptional season because he has that talent.’
Having made his first-team debut for Barca at age 17, Bojan would go on to score 41 goals in 162 games over the next four campaigns, while winning three La Liga titles and two Champions League winner’s medals.
However, the 23-year-old’s career would stagnate badly following a move to Roma in 2011, getting sent out on loan to AC Milan for 2012-13, before he was sold back to the Catalan giants the following summer.
Another season-long loan at Ajax during previous campaign seeing him fail to impress, Bojan’s star had faded to the point where a growing number were starting to write him off, but Hughes on the other hand never believed he was taking a gamble.
‘To be perfectly honest, I didn't think it was [a case of Stoke taking] a chance,’ he said.
‘Everybody's saying that he had a bad time at Ajax, Milan, Roma, wherever he's been. I think people want to put him in a certain box and say he's struggled for three years; that's not actually the case. He's a good player.’
Having spent a season at Barca in the late 80s, Hughes used his contacts at the Nou Camp last summer to bring in defender Marc Muniesa and now, having pulled off another coup, sees the once-promising front man adapting to English football with few problems.
‘He's a nice kid as well and he's got a good support around him here, obviously Marc Muniesa and a number of Spanish-speaking players within the group, which initially will help him.
‘He wants to learn English as quickly as possible because that will help him further but he's in a good place. He's very happy.’
With Stoke bidding to improve upon last season’s impressive ninth-place Premier League finish, the addition of the one-time capped Spain international could just prove a genius piece of business if he can rediscover some of the magic which saw him touted as “the next Messi”.