In case you’ve only just entered our church here, let me clue you into our unique relationship with Edin Dzeko. During the summer of 2015, we tracked the prolonged Dzeko to Roma saga for weeks, if not months, even piggybacking off the #DareToZlatan trend with our own admittedly contrived #DareToDzeko campaign. Point being, this was big news—at that point, Roma hadn’t had a true, broad shouldered hitman striker since those six glorious months Luca Toni wore the yellow and gold—so we followed it every step of the way.
But Dzeko’s transition to Rome wasn’t all sunshine and flowers. Frequently the object of scorn and dubbed Edin Cieco by the Italian press (Italian for ‘blind’) due to his, shall we say, poor finishing during the 2015-2016, one in which he only managed eight league goals, Dzeko didn’t exactly hit the ground running in Serie A. At that point, Dzeko was deemed a sunk cost and was relegated to the bench once Luciano Spalletti took over in January of 2016. It seemed as though Dzeko’s career had hit a dead end, and that Roma would have to take a massive loss to save face.
Few among us saw Dzeko’s resurgence in 2016-2017 coming. Dzeko pulled a complete 180, turning into the goal scoring machine we’d all hoped for the prior summer. In 51 appearances across all competitions, Dzeko scored an astounding 39 goals en route to a capocannoniere season. Dzeko was bruising, effective and efficient; he was the striker the club had been craving for the past 15 years.
So it came as quite a shock to see Dzeko’s name in the transfer papers this past winter, part of a €60 million Chelsea swoop that would have seen Antonio Conte nab Dzeko and Emerson Palmieri in one fell swoop. Of course, Palmieri did wind up moving to the Premiership while Dzeko’s feet remained firmly planted in the Eternal City, a place he has grown to love over the past two years, to the point where he seemingly would nix any potential transfer move.
Despite all the affection and all the goals, if a club was going to offer €30 some odd million for a 32-year-old striker, it would behoove Roma to listen, right?
That very question put (and puts) Roma in a very precarious position. While Dzeko may not be a household name, he is among the small handful of legit, shall we say, power forwards in the game; guys who score through positioning, strength and sheer force of will. His debut season with Roma was really an outlier; Dzeko can score with the best of them, and Roma wouldn’t even be facing the prospect of a Barcelona beat down were it not for his goal scoring prowess.
It really is a maddening proposition. If you follow the old sporting adage that it’s better to sell a guy a year too early than a year too late, then by all means, sell Dzeko. If, however, you believe that Dzeko’s skillset will age well, and that he’ll continue to be Roma’s lead dog for three to four more seasons, then there’s no way in hell you’d part with that, no matter the cost.
But that was a matter for the winter, right? We’re past all that by now, surely. Nope. Spanish outlet El Gol Digital not only reports that Dzeko will once again be on the market, but they went ahead and threw another name into the mix, Real Madrid, who they claim also made an offer for Dzeko in the winter.
Now, it’s not the veracity of this rumor that matters, but it’s mere existence. While we should always take these things with several grains of salt, they are indicative of Dzeko’s standing in the marketplace; he remains very much a hot commodity and with club’s ongoing FFP woes, the larger clubs may see Roma ripe for the plucking. In Chelsea’s case, they need Dzeko as insurance for Alvaro Morata, who has had a decent season but hasn’t met expectations, while Real Madrid view Dzeko as a cheaper alternative to Robert Lewandowski.
From the Roman perspective the presence of Patrik Schick further complicates matters. If 2017-2018 proved anything, it’s that Schick can’t function fully as a right winger—he needs the ball played through his feet in front of the goal—and when you invest an eventual €42 million in a kid, you’re implored to create an environment in which he can succeed. So another season lost on the wing or vulchering minutes when Dzeko needs rest isn’t exactly a shrewd way to up the ROI on Schick.
So couple Roma’s FFP issues with their enormous investment in Schick, and sprinkle in a couple well-heeled clubs that need a striker, and it’s not hard to see why these rumors persist.
Edin Dzeko may love life in Roma, but the club’s balance sheets are a cold hearted bitch.