When Roma announced the signing of Eldor Shomurodov at the beginning of August, I must admit I had some reservations at first. Eldor might be Uzbekistan’s finest export product, but that country isn’t exactly famous for producing football talents like Brazil, Spain, or France. He's played only one season in Serie A, scoring eight goals for a midtable team like Genoa. Shomu isn’t a spring chicken either as he just turned 26. His price tag, including bonuses, could go up to €20 million, so, yeah, this move raised some questions among the tifosi alright.
But then I took a deep breath, gave it some time, relaxed, watched some Modern Family, revisited Roma’s past, and ultimately I’m totally won over by this transfer. Let me explain why.
First off, the name: Eldor Azamat Shomurodov. Eldor sounds like a Lord of the Rings character while Azamat was one of the best parts in one of the best comedies of all time, Borat.
Ok, he arrived from Genoa, so what? Not so long ago Roma was bringing in players from Siena, Chievo, Sampdoria, Venezia, Palermo, and Lecce and it worked too, didn’t it? Taddei, Perrotta, Tonetto, Cassetti, Balzaretti, Mancini all were a hit. Plus it’s not like high-profile names from big clubs who came to Roma in the past have always been an instant success. Ashley Cole, Vermaelen, Cicinho, Menez, Doumbia, Adriano, I can go on.
Tell me, would you rather have a bigger name who’s lazy and arrogant with nothing left to prove or someone who may not be Messi or Ronaldo but gives 110% for the crest and colors every match, being grateful for the chance he got?
I admit, Eldor only had one decent season at Genoa and didn’t exactly set Serie A alight during those days—unlike a Taddei or Perrotta I mentioned earlier—but clearly the management and Mourinho saw something in Eldor. Something they could mold into a dangerous weapon. Someone who would work his ass off to help improve the team. He scored two goals in 45 minutes against Atalanta, that’s something. And don’t forget his amazing record for the Uzbekistan NT: 21 goals in 44 games.
This transfer reminds me of a certain Mirko Vucinic, one of those marbles from a smaller team Roma snapped up. Eldor is the same type of player. A tall yet quick forward/winger hybrid. Able to play in a central role but also out wide or as a support striker. Vucinic’s last season at Lecce he scored nine goals in 34 games, somewhat comparable to Eldor’s stats at Genoa even though Mirko was three years younger when he moved to AS Roma.
Notorious hothead Vucinic ultimately played over 200 games for the Giallorossi, scoring 60+ goals before joining Juventus, becoming a fan favorite the Olimpico in the process. Eldor seems a more humble guy than Mirko but from what I saw in pre-season and from match reviews, he is making quite a name for himself. Two goals and one half assist in two starts vs Betis and Raja and a lot of praise.
This is the kind of move that can only work if both the club and player are in perfect harmony. Shomurodov needs to feel trust from the trainer and the club who has confidence in him, while Roma needs Eldor to sync with Zaniolo, Micki, Pellegrini up front. Then the goals and performances will surely follow.
It seems that Eldor really wants to prove himself and repay Roma. After all, his price tag was quite huge. Yet it didn’t look like a panic buy from Pinto to me because it was just August and Dzeko was still here so there was plenty of time to search for an attacker. Roma needed to cough up the dough if they wanted Eldor and they already wasted too much time with Xhaka, so they decided to roll the dice and go for it.
Eldor looks set to at least have a big say in Mourinho’s 4-2-3-1, be it on the wing or up front. Abraham might need some more time to adjust to life in Rome so Shomu should be the starter for Trabzon and Fiorentina.
And so a new page begins for the Eldor Scrolls. To end with another gaming reference and one of the best video games made: let’s hope the competition falls into Oblivion when Shomurodov takes the stage.