Not for the first time, an Italian club in need of goals has decided that Edin Džeko is the answer to their problems. However, where Juventus failed to secure the Bosnian striker back in 2010, there are now widespread reports AS Roma have agreed an €18 million deal to finally bring him to the peninsula.
The Bianconeri interest was of course ended when the player’s current club Manchester City handed VfL Wolfsburg €32 million, a sum the Turin club simply could not match.
Džeko arrived in the Premier League having enjoyed a hugely successful spell in Germany, netting 76 goals in his final 109 games and helping them win the Bundesliga title in 2008/09. That season also saw him named Germany’s Player’s Player of the Year, and he headed to join Roberto Mancini’s side brimming with confidence. “Everybody says that England is the perfect league for me with my style,” he said on the eve of that move. “Now is the time to prove it!”
Whether or not he achieved that aim over the last four and a half years remains open to some debate, with his record of 71 goals in 185 appearances arguably leaving more questions than answers for the 29-year-old. Džeko played a significant role in both their title winning campaigns, scoring a vital equaliser on the final day of the 2011/12 season to pave the way for Sergio Agüero’s dramatic late strike.
“It’s definitely one of my most important ever goals” he said later, while a scoring streak against Crystal Palace, Everton and Aston Villa helped City add a second Premier League crown two years later. His strike rate of a goal every 129.9 minutes is among the best around, with the fact that 62 of his appearances have come as a substitute showing he has been far from a first-team regular during his stay in Manchester.
That became most evident last season as Manuel Pellegrini preferred other players to lead the attack, with Džeko subsequently enduring a difficult twelve months.
He scored just six goals in 31 matches across all competitions, and was given just 16 starts overall as he battled both a lack of fitness and poor form. Pellegrini fielded the Sarajevo native just once in the final seven games of the season; a nine-minute cameo in the home win over West Ham United as it became clear that – much like Stevan Jovetić – Džeko was now surplus to requirements.
His former team-mate has already made the leap to Serie A, joining Inter last month as Mancini looks to rebuild the ailing Milanese giants, and it seems Džeko will now follow suit. While AS Roma finished last year as runners-up to Juventus, they were not only some 17 points behind, but also scored 18 fewer goals as no fewer than seven other clubs recorded higher tallies.
French coach Rudi Garcia favours a 4-3-3 formation, and the players at his disposal would arguably create an ideal situation for Džeko to rediscover his best form. With wingers Mohamed Salah and Juan Manuel Iturbe joining the remarkable Francesco Totti, there would be no shortage of creativity for the Bosnian star to feed off. There is little wonder that Giallorossi midfielder and international team-mate Miralem Pjanić insists “Džeko would run to Roma!”
Given that kind of service it is difficult not to see him thriving, with the prospect of a reliable goal scorer seemingly too much for the club to resist. Adem Ljajić and Totti lead all players with just eight goals last term, and Džeko – who has bagged over 20 in six of his last eight seasons – would fit the bill nicely. When fit and firing, he is a prototypical modern striker, blending skill, pace and athleticism along with a deadly touch in front of goal.
Of course Roma are no strangers to appearing to land the ideal candidate to fill that goal scoring void, with Fabio Borini, Dani Osvaldo and Mattia Destro each making a splash only to be moved on. Each struggled for consistency and failed to establish a real role for themselves, and last season Seydou Doumbia was the latest to fall short of the required standard.
Having notched 12 in 17 games, Roma splashed a reported €14.4 million to bring him to the Italian capital, only to see him net just twice in fourteen games for a club where both fans and the local press have very little patience. Those factors meant they club have leant heavily on Totti once again, a situation that cannot continue as the captain’s 40th birthday looms ever closer.
Džeko developed a reputation for erratic performances and came in for much criticism during his time at Manchester City, and will need to make a good start if he is not to face the same in Italy.
He seemingly always delivered when the club needed him to, and if he can do the same for Roma, the Giallorossi might have the striker they need to finally launch a true challenge for the Serie A title.
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