Edin Dzeko is slowly worming his way back into Paulo Fonseca's good graces. With the two men engaged in a behind-the-scenes cold war over the past several weeks (if not months), Dzeko, Roma's third all-time leading scorer, suddenly found himself playing second fiddle to Borja Mayoral, a 23-year-old forward on loan from Real Madrid. And as if that weren't bad enough for Dzeko, he was officially and unceremoniously stripped of the captain's armband, replaced by midfielder and local boy Lorenzo Pellegrini.
However, now that Roma's Europa League campaign has resumed, there seem to be more minutes to go around at striker, with Dzeko logging 102 minutes in the club's past two matches: a 70-minute start in Roma's 2-0 win over Braga last Thursday and 32-minute cameo against Benevento yesterday.
Despite the detente between Fonseca and Dzeko, due to his age, salary, and expiring contract, the Bosnian's future likely resides outside of Rome, which means the club will be in the market for a new striker this season.
Late last month, we suggested a few names Roma might pursue this summer, and if Il Romanista is correct, GM Tiago Pinto seems to have found an early favorite. According to a report they published earlier today, Pinto has narrowed his focus to Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic and has already met with the 21-year-old Serbian's representatives twice: last summer (presumably that was Guido Fienga because Pinto wasn't hired yet) and just a few days ago at Roma's headquarters in Trigoria.
Vlahovic, who made his debut for the Viola in 2018, is a big-bodied striker (a stout 6’2”) and has scored 17 goals in 69 appearances in all competitions for the Firenze club. While he's still a bit of a raw product, he's currently averaging 0.51 goals per 90 minutes, which puts him in the 70th percentile among Serie A strikers this season.
With Vlahovic reportedly angling for a new, more lucrative contract and eager to join a club competing in Europe, the vultures are swirling around Fiorentina, with Roma and AC Milan reportedly having made contact with Vlahovic, who Il Romanista speculate can be had for as little as €15 million.
Vlahovic is a young and intriguing prospect, but would this satiate a sizeable portion of the fanbase who are eager for a more proven product like Andrea Belotti?
The amount of money Pinto has at his disposal this summer likely depends on where Roma finishes on the table. If they finish in the Champions League and are able to cut a bit of dead weight from the payroll, then perhaps someone like Belotti would be in play.
If, however, Roma misses out on the Champions League for the third-straight season, a €15 million speculative play on a kid like Vlahovic might be Roma's best bet. He's got the size and potential to be a top striker and a move to Roma could be the next logical step in his career.
Stay tuned, the striker rumors show no signs of abating.