Miralem Pjanic has had one of the more interesting Roma careers in recent memory. Stolen from under the noses of Europe's usual heavyweights on deadline day in 2011 for a mere €11 million, or about the cost of a Diego Perotti on today's market, Pjanic, perhaps more than any other player on the club since then (with the possible exception of Daniele De Rossi), has seen his performances ebb and flow with each successive managerial change.
From his days as Luis Enrique's boy toy to his near excommunication under Zeman to his reimagining under Luciano Spalletti, few players have suffered as many changes of fortune as Miralem Pjanic. Yet, despite those shifting winds, Pjanic has always been a central figure in Roma's transfer rumors: one minute he's not fit for the squad with Roma simply hoping to make a tiny profit, while the next he's an indispensable cog in everything James Pallotta hopes to achieve, to the tune of a €45 million buyout clause.
While we don't know what the future holds for Pjanic and Roma, especially not with the season Leandro Paredes is putting in at Empoli and the increasing La Liga connections for Pjanic, in the here and now we can safely say this: Miralem Pjanic has never been better.
Pjanic has always passed the eye test, always looking the part of an intuitive midfielder, but over the past few season, the statistics have started to bear this out, as Mira has seen a steady progression in his passing and playmaking numbers, while he's already set a career high in goals scored and has established himself as one of te game's premier set piece threats.
However, selecting data for exercises such as these is always a perilous journey, simply because there remains so much subjectivity, not in the data in and of itself, but rather they myriad ways you can select various metrics to prove your point. That is to say, so much of a players performance remains out of their control, due to managerial preferences, league styles and game states, to name a few, that you can use numbers to paint any number of pictures.
With that in mind, and for the sake of this exercise, we're going to view Pjanic simply as a playmaker, one who is increasingly becoming adept in the attacking phases of the game, namely shot selection and, of course, goal scoring. More on that in a moment.
As you can see, with a few exceptions, Pjanic is outperforming his career P90 passing numbers. Chances created, assists and key passes are all at or excruciatingly close to career highs, while he has already established a career high in goals scored. The closest competition for current Pjanic is the 2012-2013 vintage, during which he turned in slightly better numbers in chances created and key passes per 90 numbers, though it must be said that he only played 1,710 league minutes that season, a mark he'll surpass in his next match, so if nothing else, his performances haven't dipped with the heavier workload.
Back to attacking for a moment. Not only are Pjanic's goals up, but he's shown better shot selection, putting a career high 1.2 shots on target per 90 minutes. Similarly, half of his shots this season (per 90) have come within the opponent's penalty area. While Roma should never count on Pjanic to be their leading goal scorer, or indeed even a consistent threat, his shot selection has never been better, giving the club another intelligent and efficient threat.
And, sure, with another 15 or so appearances and 800 minutes this season, all these current averages can dip, but we're nothing else if not prisoners of the moment. And at this moment, Pjanic is playing like never before, leading to increased calls from abroad.
And with Champions League football not yet a guarantee, we're left to ask, can Roma resist those beckon calls?