Its not everyday you see a player who nearly halves their league goalscoring output and still gets hailed for having a better season than his last. And yet, it seems like Edin Džeko’s monstrous capocannoniere campaign from last season just didn’t have the magic from this season. Or you know, it's recency bias. Whatever. All told, Edin amassed 24 goals and 6 assists across Serie A and the Champions League and was one of Roma’s standout players this season. It wasn’t all smooth sailing for him (or Roma for that matter), but Dzeko still ended the season as one of Roma’s most important players of the season.
At the start of the season, it seemed like Dzeko was in for reduced minutes with EDF’s old boy Gregoire Defrel and Monchi’s marquee signing Patrik Schick added to the squad. It was expected that the two new players would rotate minutes with Dzeko and the capocannoniere holder would have a reduced role in the squad. Perhaps it was the competition or perhaps it was just his form from last season, but the Bosnian got off to a blistering start scoring his eighth of the season by October 1st. Roma fans were salivating at his incredible output and this purple patch culminated in the memorable away leg against Chelsea in the Champions League.
When Dzeko plays like this, between the lines, spreading play, getting other attacking players involved and most of all scoring absolute bangers like the second Roma goal in this game, he is truly a fearsome beast. The volley for the equalizer will long remain in the memories of Roma fans as one of the most magical moments of a memorable season. Personal note: Dzeko’s volley is now my second favourite volley of all time behind the Totti vs Sampdoria.
Following his early season form, Dzeko had a rough scoring patch and scored just 4 more goals between mid-October and the end of February. This turn in form wasn’t just about him as Eusebio di Francesco’s side went through a mid-season identity crisis of their own including a 7 game winless streak in December and January. Also, thanks to his heroics at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea tried to make a lucrative offer to Dzeko in the winter window and the ensuing media circus certainly seemed to affect his concentration on the pitch. Eventually, Dzeko declined the offer for more money from Chelsea to continue playing in the Champions League.
The turning point in his form was the game against Napoli at the San Paolo. Napoli were top of the table in March with a point advantage over Juventus and had won their previous ten games in a row. They faced Roma in tatters who were 5th in the league and had suffered deserved defeats in their previous two games to Shakhtar Donetsk and AC Milan. Napoli were heavy favourites and there were fears of a rout but no one was counting on the return of the big Bosnian. Two brilliant goals in a 2-4 win helped push Roma back into the top four and provided a big spark to the team at a crucial juncture of the season. In the very next game, Roma needed one goal against Shakhtar to advance to the last 8 of the Champions league and the Dzeko stepped up yet again with a cool finish for the winner.
Dzeko’s rise in form was perfectly timed as Roma was still in the midst of two major competitions and they needed their #9 to be at his best again. Dzeko would go on to score 10 goals between March and the end of the season effectively erasing the dark cloud that hung over him and the team in the winter. This was nowhere more clear than in the Champions League where Dzeko scored in 5 consecutive knockout games (a club record), a streak which he could still build on next season. Perhaps his greatest game of the season was THAT Barcelona game that we’re all going to rewatch for a long long time. His early goal sent the Olimpico into the loudest hope roar we’ve heard and the penalty he earned in the second half well and truly sent the belief waves through the team and the stadium. He also made both of Barcelona’s highly paid center backs, Pique and Umtiti look bang average by dominating them both on the ground and in the air.
When we look back on this season, its easy to look at the Winter months and worry about Dzeko being a streaky player. However, the way he bounced back and led this team from the front when the team most needed him shows what a decisive and pivotal piece of the team he still is. Given everything we’ve seen from him in the last two seasons, one hopes the management will build more pieces to support Dzeko’s production this summer and we’ll get to live through a few more memorable Dzekogols.