The Edin Džeko will-he-or-won’t-he shuffle surrounding a potential transfer has been a part of the mercato news cycle for nearly as long as he’s been with the Giallorossi. To a certain extent, that fits. After the departure of Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi, he’s been Roma’s biggest star player and its highest-paid player. Particularly after his scuffle with Paulo Fonseca last season, I think everyone here at Chiesa di Totti thought it was only a matter of time this summer before he finally left the club, either for Juventus or a smaller club where he would be guaranteed starters’ minutes as the focal point of the offense.
With Džeko recently suggesting that all the rumors putting him on the train out of Rome were completely inaccurate, though, we’ve started to see a different kind of rumor from the Andrea Belotti or Mauro Icardi type that we’ve seen for years. Instead, the media is linking Roma to backup strikers, players who can easily slot in as a backup for Džeko in the short-term and potentially Borja Mayoral in the long term. Tiago Pinto isn’t hunting for stars-in-the-making; he’s looking for strikers who can fit in the squad and provide depth for José Mourinho as the Giallorossi play in three competitions.
There are rumors here and there connecting the Giallorossi to the likes of Norwegian striker Alexander Sorloth and Iranian striker Sardar Azmoun, but with Azmoun reportedly going to Bayer Leverkusen and Sorloth being generally uninspiring as a pickup, Tiago Pinto has moved his search for a backup striker back in to Serie A, Enter Eldor Azamat oʻgʻli Shomurodov, an Uzbekistani striker with a name that sounds like it’s something out of a cross between a J.R.R. Tolkien book and a Dostoevsky novel. The 26-year-old Genoa forward scored eight goals for Genoa in his first season in Serie A, stands 6’3” tall, and apparently goes by Eldor on the back of his kit (which is pretty cool if you ask me). I personally didn’t know much about Shomurodov before these links popped up, so if you’re in a similar boat to me and you can tolerate two-and-a-half-minute highlight reels with music that sounds like EDM and reggaeton had a baby, do I have the video for you.
All in all, limited footage, but an interesting player who could definitely work as an Edin Džeko backup. Juventus have also been reported as sniffing around Shomurodov (naturally; remind me of the last time a player was linked to just Roma and not Juventus), but reports from the usual suspects suggest that the Giallorossi are very close to signing Shomurodov in a deal for around €15 million.
We all know that “very close to signing” has meant precious little this summer, with supposedly “done deals” like Granit Xhaka taking weeks and weeks longer than expected, but even still, the speed with which these rumors linking Shomurodov to Roma have come together suggests that Genoa might be an easier negotiating partner than Arsenal.
If Shomurodov is signed, that should all but confirm that Edin Džeko is in Rome for another season, while it simultaneously might make Borja Mayoral’s future with the Giallorossi murkier. There have been reports suggesting that Mourinho hasn’t been bowled over by Mayoral’s contributions in pre-season; will the signing of Shomurodov guarantee that the Giallorossi will send the Spanish forward back to Real Madrid next summer, or is Tiago Pinto just planning for the future where Džeko is gone, Mayoral is signed, and he and Shomurodov simply split minutes at striker?
We’ll certainly have more on this transfer if and when it becomes official, but watch this space: at this rate, Granit Xhaka might not even be Roma’s third signing of the José Mourinho Era.