Don’t look now, but after his brace against Sassuolo yesterday, Edin Dzeko...yes, that Edin Dzeko...is now the top scorer across Europe’s top five leagues. With 10 domestic goals, Dzeko pushed himself ahead of PSG’s Edinson Cavani for the (major) European lead, putting him ahead of the likes Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez and Ronaldo, to name a few. Oddly enough, two of the top three play in Italy—Dzeko, Immobile and Icardi. Perhaps Serie A is back in business after all.
But back to the matter at hand. How the hell did this happen? How in the world did a man who was a walking meme synonymous for failure become the world’s most clinical and productive striker?
Well, in a word, it all comes down to shot quality. Last season Dzeko didn’t suffer from shot attempts, as he averaged 2.7 shots per match, second on the squad only to Stephan El Shaarawy, over whom he held a pretty significant advantage in minutes.
The problem, as we all remember, was that he quite frankly didn’t do shit with them. Dzeko only put 50% of his shots on target last season, good for 11th on the club, while his conversion rate, if you can call it that, was a paltry 12.1%, nearly half that of Mohamed Salah, the club’s leading scorer. But well all knew that from a simple eye test; Dzeko was often left wanting in the area, firing shots every which way but loose.
He looked like a man lost, a shell of his former self, so when we heard the fleeting Inter Milan transfer rumors this summer, naturally we all got excited that this giant Bosnian noose would be removed from our necks
Well, how silly do we look now? Almost from the word go, Dzeko has been a man on fire, scoring in the season opener against Udinese then two weeks later against Sampdoria, but once summer turned to fall, Dzeko really took off. In his last six league matches, The Bosnian Batistuta has scored an astounding eight goals and has thrown in an assist for good measure.
And, surprising though it may be, the foundation of that scintillating form has been a marked improvement in his shot volume, accuracy and efficiency. Dzeko is currently averaging a robust 5.2 shots per match, while placing 59% of those shots on goal and converting nearly 22% of them into goals, while also leading the league in clear cut goals.
Bottom line, he’s brimming with confidence and it shows; he’s taking higher percentage shots (4.4 per match in the area), putting them on target and banging ‘em home. And considering how much service he actually did receive last season, this begins to look like a player who simply had a devil of a time adjusting to a new league last season, a matter made worse by the second half surge from El Shaarawy and Diego Perotti, which cast Dzeko as the untouchable.
So whether it was simple acclimation or some sort of new age philosophy he studied over the summer, Dzeko has completely flipped the script. Rather than passively floating around the periphery, Dzeko is establishing himself deep in the box, demanding ball and producing results; putting himself and the club in an advantageous position.
The difference is stark and Dzeko, along with Mohamed Salah and Kostas Manolas, are the pillars upon which Roma’s success this season has been found.