Edin Džeko – Discarded by City; Flourishing in Rome

It has been almost 18 months since Edin Džeko packed his bags and departed the Premier League. And there is the case that the Bosnian’s impact on England’s top division was somewhat undervalued. After all, this is a man who played a key role in both of Manchester City’s title winning seasons in 2011/12 and 2013/14, most notably, of course, scoring the first of two stoppage time goals in the unforgettable 3-2 win against QPR in the 11/12 season.

Džeko was outstanding in filling the boots of an injured Sergio Aguero at the end of the 13/14 season scoring 16 times in 31 games, including consecutive braces at Goodison Park against Everton and at home to Aston Villa a few days later, taking them above Liverpool at the summit going into the final game.

Underrated? Unappreciated?

Definitely. Already playing second fiddle to Aguero limited his game time, but the signing of Wilfried Bony in January 2015, and the emergence of Stefan Jovetić saw him drop down the pecking order, which led to his departure.

Roma on the other hand, were in dire need of a front man in preparation for the 2015/16 campaign. The signing of Seydou Doumbia in the January did not work out and he was sent back to CSKA Moscow on loan and Mattia Destro was sold to Bologna, leaving a vacant spot up top. Roma took a chance on the then 28 year-old and loaned him for the season. Džeko scored just 8 in 21 league starts, but still helped Roma to a 3rd place finish and Champions League qualification. Convinced, the Giallorossi signed Džeko permanently for €11million after clauses were activated in his loan contract.

Džeko’s goal laden streak started in Roma’s first pre-season game, a 16-0 win at amateur Pinzolo; Džeko scored four in 15 minutes. Carrying this form into competitive fixtures, he also managed to score in Roma’s opening day 4-0 win against Udinese. The nine matches starting from 21 September to 3 November saw whoscored.com award Džeko with Man of the Match six times, including in the 2-1 win at home to Inter and a 3-1 win at Napoli. He scored 10 goals in those nine games and by the winter break, he had 18 in all competitions. Rumours with a move to Real Madrid also surfaced.

Džeko has now scored in eight consecutive games, keeping the Roma faithful optimistic of winning silverware this season. They may sit seven points behind a rampant Juventus, but they have a Derby della Capitale double-header coming up against Lazio in the two legged Coppa Italia semi-final and their incredible 4-0 win at Villarreal has all but seen them through to the Last 16 of the Europa League, a competition in which Džeko is the top scorer with eight goals, including two hat tricks against Viktoria Plzen and in the 4-0 success at Villarreal respectively.

His treble in Spain last week shows that he is not an awkward, clumsy player as he is usually associated as. His first goal saw him allow Mohamed Salah’s cross to run across him, completely taking Mateo Musacchio out of the game before calmly sliding the ball past Sergio Asenjo. For his second, he showed great strength to hold off Victor Ruiz and latch onto Juan Jesus’ hopeful long ball before finding the net again. And finally, his third goal saw him play a wonderful give and go with Radja Nainggolan, receive the ball 12 yards from goal, brilliantly controlled, before sliding it past Asenjo for the third time in 21 minutes. His goals proved he is capable of being a complete forward. Excellent link-up play, close control and the kind of strength you would expect from a man of 6ft”4.

Džeko has not been this productive in front of goal since his title-winning season at Wolfsburg in 2008/09 when he scored 26 times in 32 games and even though it is unlikely that Roma will end this season as Serie A champions, there is no reason to suggest why they cannot win their first trophy since 2008. With Džeko the focal point of a team that Luciano Spaletti has assembled, playing 3-4-3 with Radja Nainggolan and any choice of Mohamed Salah, Diego Perotti or Stephan El Shaarawy alongside, the energetic, marauding, Brazilian wing backs Bruno Peres and Emerson give the side a new dimension.

Can Džeko fire Roma to glory? He is certainly capable.

The Author

Andrew Delaney

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