When Edin Džeko joined Roma last August, the excitement - and the expectation - was palpable. Here was the highest Bosnian goal-scorer of all time, a long-time fixture of Manchester City and Wolfsburg, and a two-time Premier League winner. Thousands flooded Fiumicino to see The Bosnian Diamond enter the fray, and everyone from Roman legends to internet commenters were adamant that Džeko represented the final piece of the puzzle for a club once again in a trophy drought. It didn't take long for the inevitable comparisons to Gabriel Batistuta to emerge, and why wouldn't they? The renowned veteran who moved to Roma lead the Giallorossi to their first title since the 1980s, and many hoped that Džeko could repeat this feat.
It's safe to say that the Great Bosnian Experiment hasn't gone as well as any Romanista would have hoped for, although there is definitely still time for improvement. Džeko's ten goals and seven assists in all competitions are certainly nothing to sneeze at, placing him third among scorers and tied for second among playmakers (with his compatriot Miralem Pjanić being the only player to assist more goals). However, head-scratching moments (along with kicking-the- television-in-anger-and-disbelief moments most perfectly personified by our own Maicon Douglas Sisenando) defined Edin's season, leading many supporters to demand yet another addition to A.S. Roma's striker crew. Who can answer the call? Who can even try to mimic the glorious moments that Batistuta provided for Roma?
To pretend that there is another Batistuta waiting in the wings for Roma to snatch up is lunacy, but transfer gurus the continent over have declared that Walter Sabatini has focused in on two strikers who have the tantalizing combination of youth and success in top-flight leagues. Arkadiusz Milik of Ajax and Michy Batshuayi of Olympique de Marseille are the flavors of the week, and despite the obvious fact that neither has the name recognition of Džeko or Batistuta, these are players to get excited over - they could become successful long-term fixtures of the Olimpico (and who knows, maybe the Stadio della Roma as well).
Got Milik? Imagining Arkadiusz at the Olimpico
Arkadiusz Milik, or "Arek" for short, is a 22-year-old Polish striker currently plying his wares for Ajax and the Polish National Football Team. He first came to his current club with little fanfare on loan in 2014, and after an eleven-goal season was purchased outright for a tidy €2.8 million. Milik truly broke out this past season however, netting twenty-one goals in thirty-one appearances in the Eredivisie.
The man Ronald de Boer has said "has the potential to develop into a top striker like Zlatan Ibrahimović, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, or Luis Suarez" has a major upside to his game: he finishes extremely well. Considering the finishing woes that Džeko has had this season, this may sound like the perfect remedy for Roma, and his overall composure and ability to contribute defensively makes him seem like a great player for Luciano Spalletti to mold to his liking. Although there are definite flaws to his game as well, including a tendency to take too many shots on goal (paging Radja Nainggolan, Radja Nainggolan to the pitch), Milik does seem like the right type of player to slot into this side.
Batty for Batshuayi: Adding Another Belgian to the Squad
The other striker being touted as a potential salve for Roma's problems up front is Michy Batshuayi Tunga, currently of Marseille. Also only 22 years old, Batshuayi has been a hot commodity on the transfer market for a while now, with l'OMdropping €6 million on him in 2014 - and he has certainly worked to repay that transfer fee with his performances. "Batman" (watch out, Morgan) scored 24 goals in all competitions last season, including four in the Europa League.
Batshuayi's style is somewhat of a throwback, using his pace to just go out there and score. He is definitely not likely to mimic a number 10, but considering the playmaking abilities in the squad already, this is most likely not a major problem. Perhaps most importantly, his goal-per-90 ratio of .67 is markedly impressive for a 22-year-old even when considering the relative weakness of Ligue 1, and his sheer goal-scoring prowess will cause many to hearken back to Mattia Destro.
Perhaps Batshuayi's biggest weakness is his discipline and selfish play. As of now, the selfishness has often been justified - when you're scoring as much as Michy, it makes sense to keep the ball. However, it remains to be seen if he will be able to control his temper and his selfishness on a higher-quality squad, because these flaws could prove extremely problematic in Italy.
Stopgap or Long-term Solution?
Edin Džeko was never intentioned to be a long-term fix: at age thirty, he's most likely seen the peak of his career, and although he may be useful into the future he will most likely not be Roma's number one goal-scoring option. Milik and Batshuayi represent a much younger alternative to Roma's current striker corps, and although they may be able to work with one of Roma's younger prospects (such as Ezequiel Ponce or Marco Tumminello) in the future, their introduction to the squad may make it harder for one of the younger kids to actually break through. Will either of these players ever wear the Roma shirt? Only time will tell, but they both could be inspired additions to a squad looking to lift silverware in the near future.