Five players Bojan joins in playing in four of Europe’s biggest leagues

At 26 years of age, Bojan Krkić Pérez more commonly known as just Bojan already has quite the CV. After starting his footballing career at FC Barcelona before making his way through the youth ranks between 1999-2006, it wasn’t long until the promising and quick striker with impressive dribbling skills and scorer of a reported 900 goals for various youth clubs since joining FC Barcelona at the age of just eight, was thrust into the Barcelona first-team.Making his official debut at the age of 17 years and 19 days, Bojan not only broke Lionel Messi’s record in becoming the youngest Barcelona player to feature in a top-flight La Liga match against Osasuna but he from this point on seemingly paved the way for a future career in professional football after making it to the highest level.

Initial signs may have suggested that the young Spaniard was worthy of all the hype that preceded his eventual first-team appearance at the club but in a time where Bojan struggled for regular first-team football behind the likes of Lionel Messi, David Villa and Zlatan Ibrahimović to name just three of the world-class strikers on FC Barcelona’s books during their period of dominance on all fronts, it was always going to hard for Bojan to fully establish himself at the club. Consequently despite making an impressive 104 total appearances for the FC Barcelona first-team during four seasons between 2007-2011, his permanent move to AS Roma merely proved to be the start of a tumultuous few years for Bojan. As well as struggling with injuries, the hardest battle that the now 26 year old has faced has been fully recapturing the form which earned him glittering reviews and comparisons to the likes of Lionel Messi. AS Roma rejected the chance to exercise their option to fully purchase Bojan, Ajax were equally as reluctant to sign the Spaniard on a permanent basis and Stoke City, despite taking a chance on Bojan for a mere €1.8 million and giving him the opportunity to show a glimpse of his early promise, have since parted ways with Bojan, allowing him to join German Bundesliga side FC Mainz 05 until the end of the current season.

Therefore if you’ve been keeping count, you’ll have noticed that as well as the Spanish top-flight where Bojan started his playing career, he too has played in the Italian Serie A, English Premier League and soon the German Bundesliga – as well as the Dutch Eredivisie. Focusing solely on the top tier of Spanish, English, Italian and German football, Bojan is only the ninth player to ever appear in all four leagues. Squad goals or just football journeymen, nonetheless @ASelbyInfo takes a look at the famous five that Bojan joins in what is an incredibly exclusive squad to join.

Abel Xavier

Premier League: Everton (1999-2002), Liverpool (2002-03), Middlesbrough (2005-07)
Serie A: AS Roma (2005-06)
La Liga: Real Oviedo (1996-98)
Bundesliga: Hannover 96 (2003-04)

Former Portuguese full-back and current head coach of the Mozambique national football team Abel Xavier started his conquest of playing in all four major leagues with a two year spell at Real Oviedo in the mid 90’s. In his first season Oviedo finished three points above the drop and avoided relegation whilst in his second and final season with the Spanish side, Oviedo narrowly avoided relegation in a time where relegation playoffs were such a thing – beating SD Compostela to secure another season of top flight football.

Soon followed what proved to be a stop-gap at PSV Eindhoven before spending a total of four years in England applying his trade at both Merseyside clubs, making four times as many appearances for Everton but only scoring one time in his four seasons in English football – on his Liverpool debut against Ipswich Town. Xavier made it three out of four with a move to Bundesliga side Hannover 96 where the Portuguese defender made a mere five appearances before moving to AS Roma and making even less of an impact in Italy with two less appearances with a total of three during a year spent in Serie A. Most definitely a character that will be remembered in football, notably if you’re recalling the very few that have managed to play in all four major leagues that is!

Jon Dahl Tomasson

Premier League: Newcastle United (1997-98)
Serie A: Milan (2002-05)
La Liga: Villarreal (2007-08)
Bundesliga: VfB Stuttgart (2005-07)

As well as playing in all four major leagues, Danish forward Jon Dahl Tomasson is an incredibly well-decorated footballer. Alongside numerous individual accolades from the very start of his career when named as the Danish U19 Player of the Year back in 1994 to the two Danish Player of the Year awards won in 2002 and 2004, the 6ft striker also went on to win the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Cup during his time as a player together with numerous league and cup titles. Therefore with one hell of a CV, when tracing his career back to the start it was actually the English Premier League that Jon Dahl Tomasson graced first out of all four leagues making 23 appearances and scoring 3 goals for Newcastle United during the earlys of the Premier League back in the 1997-98 season.

His promise was evident for everybody to see and a move to the Dutch Eredivisie provided the springboard for the Danish forward to live out the best days of his career as Italian giants Milan. During three seasons at the club, Tomasson became club royalty winning all there was to win at the club in a team alongside some of the club’s greatest ever players. Three years in Milan was soon followed by three years split between Germany and Spain as Tomasson went on to make a combined 66 appearances in both competitions, scoring a total of 15 goals – 7 less than his three year spell in Milan.

Eduardo Vargas

Premier League: Queens Park Rangers (2014-15)
Serie A: Napoli (2012-15)
La Liga: Valencia (2014-15)
Bundesliga: 1899 Hoffenheim (2015-17)

Not quite the household name that Jon Dahl Tomasson might be but Eduardo Vargas shares the same prestige of being able to say he has played in all four major European leagues in an incredibly impressive spell of only five years. After making a big switch abroad to Napoli for a reported £11.5m, the future looked bright for the 22 year old and it wasn’t long before Vargas made his Italian top-flight debut in an eventual 2-1 Coppa Italia defeat against Cesena six weeks after joining the club. After struggling for regular game time during a period where Napoli already had a strong front three of Edinson Cavani, Marek Hamsik and Ezequiel Lavezzi, perhaps Vargas’ promise went somewhat forgotten as he made few appearances in domestic and European cup competitions.

Consequently as chances proved few and far between, a short loan spell back in South America on loan at Brazilian side Grémio was only temporary and on his return to Europe the Chilean international was loaned out to Valencia in an attempt to gain further first-team experience. Valencia however didn’t choose to take Vargas on permanently meaning he would soon be on the move again, this time to the Premier League where Vargas made a total of 21 appearances for Premier League side Queens Park Rangers – four more than he gained at Valencia and two more in the space of one season than he ever managed in three seasons on Napoli’s booked. Three then became four as Napoli parted ways with Vargas at a loss of over €10m after 1899 Hoffenheim signed the Chilean international on a permanent, four year deal.

Kevin Prince Boateng

Premier League: Tottenham Hotspur (2007-09), Portsmouth (2009-10)
Serie A: Milan (2010-13 and 2016)
La Liga: Las Palmas (2016 – present)
Bundesliga: Hertha BSC (2004-07), Borussia Dortmund (2009), FC Schalke 04 (2013-15)

Aside from Bojan of course, the only player of all five selections in this article to be still playing in one of the four leagues is the Ghanaian international Kevin Prince-Boateng – a player whose career has only ever centred around the four leagues with a move outside of Germany, Italy, Spain or England evading the 29 year old midfield to date. After making his way through the ranks in Germany, not only internationally at U19, 20 and 21 level for the German national side, during 11 years spent in the Hertha Berlin youth setup between 1994-2005, Boateng then went on to make a combined total of 71 appearances for Hertha Berlin’s first and second tier between 2004-07. Boateng then went on to make a reported £5.4m move to Tottenham Hotspur who beat UEFA Cup holders Sevilla to secure his services. His playing-time and ultimate success in England (first time around at least) was somewhat limited and he was soon loaned back to Germany towards the end of his playing days at White Hart Lane, joining Borussia Dortmund on a short-term loan in 2009.

Spurs consequently made a loss on Boateng after selling the midfielder to fellow Premier League side Portsmouth, a club where Boateng had much more success, albeit still very limited considering his early promise. Controversy over an injury he inflicted on Michael Ballack ahead of the 2010 World Cup and arguments with national team manager Joachim Low which soon followed somewhat tarnished his good form in England and following the 2010 World Cup, Boateng was on the move again this time to Italy. During two spells at Milan, Boateng has had the best days of his career making both 85 appearances and himself much more of a household name than ever before. All good things came to an end however as Milan parted company with Boateng after a short return in 2016 and after being a free-agent for most of Summer 2016, Las Palmas swooped in for the Ghanaian international who has impressed this season with 5 goals in 12 appearances at this time of writing.

Maniche

Premier League: Chelsea (2006)
Serie A: Internazionale (2008)
La Liga: Atlético Madrid (2006-09)
Bundesliga: 1.FC Köln (2009-10)

At the age of 39 and over five years into his retirement from his playing days which ended back in 2011 after a season spent in his native Portugal with Sporting CP, former Portuguese international Maniche also forms part of the exclusive group of players to boast a CV with experience in the English, Spanish, German and Italian top-flight – as well a great deal of experience in the top tier of Portuguese football too. After seven years at youth level and a decade of his senior career spent in Portugal, a spell in Russia at Dynamo Moscow was short-lived as despite making 12 appearances following his €16m move to the Russian side, Maniche joined Chelsea on loan in early 2006 and ended up being part of their 2006 league winning squad – albeit not making enough appearances to earn a winners’ medal after struggling for regular game time with the likes of Michael Essien, Frank Lampard and Claude Makélélé at the peak of their powers.

After a successful loan spell in England however, Atlético Madrid gave Maniche the return he craved and scored 4 goals in his first season in La Liga as Atlético Madrid finished in 7th place. A run in with then manager Javier Aguirre however paved the way for game-time elsewhere and Maniche joined Inter Milan on loan in January 2008. Yet whilst it may have looked like there was no way back for Maniche at the Spanish club, he then went on to form a major part of the club’s success in the following season especially in their return to the UEFA Champions League 12 years away from the competition. The positives were soon caught up the negatives however as Maniche once again fell out with his club manager, this time Abel Resino and Maniche consequently left the Spanish club in summer 2009. His next adventure would be a season in the German Bundesliga at FC Köln where the Portuguese international made 26 league appearances, scoring two goals in the process.

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