What a difference one year can make. Especially in the case of Edin Dzeko.
Last season, the Bosnian striker was having nothing short of a frustrating term in Serie A. On loan from Manchester City, the powerful attacker had suffered a goal-scoring drought in his last months with the Sky Blues and had arrived in Italy with the intent on resurrect his career. It’s a well known fact that transitioning from one league to another is not always guaranteed to be a smooth transition. And Dzeko would quickly find this out over the course of his debut term with Roma.
Brought in with the clear intent on upgrading their attack, it seemed like Roma and Dzeko were a poor match. That is, at least initially. In 31 league appearances, he netted just a paltry eight goals. Although he has never been the type of player to net 25 league goals per season – in fact he’s only scored more than 20 twice – it was still a frustrating return for a player the Giallorossi spent a total of €15 million on (€4 million for his initial loan plus an €11 million option to buy).
In addition, as Roma failed to make the grade in the Champions League nor really challenge Juventus for the Scudetto, the former Wolfsburg man was often among those singled out for harsh criticism by both the the fans and the press. And, in all honesty, not many could blame them as he was guilty of missing numerous gilt-edged chances that a striker of his caliber should have converted without much thought.
Finally settling in in his sophomore season…and at just the right time for Roma
After a dismal debut, Dzeko does not appear to be suffering from any sophomore slump. In fact, the 30-year-old has taken to calcio like a duck to water. So far, he’s scored seven goals. Seven goals in just eight appearances. That’s just one less than his entire total from last season. And more important, his goals have been decisive. Last weekend, his brace against Napoli ended their unbeaten home run, and most significant, pushed Roma into second spot. A second-half strike versus Sampdoria pulled the Lupi level and set the stage for Francesco Totti’s spot-kick to seal a 3-2 win. Another brace effectively killed off any remote hopes Crotone had of a comeback in a 4-0 rout.
However, one area he has yet to make his mark is in Europe. Dzeko was disappointing during Roma’s Champions League play-offs with Porto, including a largely ineffective showing in a 3-0 home drubbing by the Portuguese outfit. So far, Luciano Spalletti’s side have made some amends for that embarrassing performance. Since parachuting into the Europa League, the Giallorossi have shown some encouraging signs of improvement. A one-all road stalemate was followed up by a 4-0 thrashing of Kazakh outfit Astra.
Still, with the red-hot form he has been in lately, Dzeko’s European drought is bound to end sooner rather than later, and it’s no surprise that he is backed at at 1/2 to score at some time against upcoming opponents Austria Wien.
All in all, it is still early in Roma’s domestic and continental campaigns. Nonetheless, Dzeko appears to be returning to the same form that saw him establish himself as a solid attacker during his time in the Bundesliga and the Premier League. And if he can continue this way, that €15 million spent on him – an amount some viewed as an utter waste of money last season – will seem like an absolute bargain as Roma look to finally end Juve’s stranglehold on the league title and their own long wait for some silverware.