Edin Dzeko is Roma's fourth all-time leading scorer and could, with even a half-way decent season, finish the year trailing only Francesco Totti and Roberto Pruzzo on the club's all-time scoring list. Love him or hate him, he's quietly become a club legend. As great as Dzeko has been, his entire tenure with the club has been a reminder of Roma's inability to develop their own strikers. Dzeko was already 29 when he arrived in Rome and has been, outside of Luca Toni for a six month stretch in 2010, the club's only legitimate number nine in the 21st century.
And this problem has infected the entire squad, too. Not only have Roma struggled to create their own leading man, but the past two decades have seen a complete absence of capable understudies. Roma were able to weather these storms thanks to a gaggle of versatile and talented forwards like Francesco Totti, Mirko Vucinic, Diego Perotti and Stephan El Sharaawy to name a few, but as we've seen over the past few years, when Edin Dzeko isn't fit or simply out of form, Roma struggle mightily.
That may change this season if Roma's newest signing hits the ground running. While Roma nearly went for a full striker house cleaning, swapping out Dzeko for Napoli's Arkadiusz Milik, the Giallorossi have instead invested in a new backup, Borja Mayoral—the club's latest official signing.
"It’s an honour for me to represent an historic club like Roma.— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) October 2, 2020
"I am grateful to the club for the faith they have shown; I will give everything for this club and I hope to make our fans proud.”
@Mayoral_Borja #ASRoma pic.twitter.com/0FYQNojnjl
Moments ago the club officially unveiled Mayoral as their third new signing of the season. Mayoral, a 23-year-old Spanish forward, arrives on a two-year loan from parent club Real Madrid, for whom he has made only 33 appearances since debuting in 2015. Mayoral spent the past few seasons on loan with Wolfsburg and Levante, scoring 15 goals in 89 appearances in all competitions.
As we discussed in the most recent episode of our new podcast, Across the Romaverse, what Mayoral lacks in total production he more than makes up for in shooting accuracy and efficiency, traits that should enable him to score more goals in Roma's more ball-dominant setup. In his younger days with Madrid, Mayoral drew rave reviews from journalists and insiders alike, with some likening him to Madrid legend Raul, while Zidane himself claimed that Mayoral is a “striker who scores every time he has a shot. He’s a vital player for us.”
Those quotes are nearly five years old now, so it’s safe to say that Mayoral hasn't developed quite as quickly as Madrid imagined in 2015, but with Roma retaining two purchase options—€15 million next summer and €20 million in 2022—there is ample time to see if this is merely a short-term depth move or a play for the future.
He won't feature this weekend against Udinese but with the Europa League kicking off later this month, Mayoral will have plenty of opportunities to impress his new teammates.