When Edin Dzeko played for Manchester City, he often cut a frustrated – if understanding – figure. He was highly respected and hugely loved, but both his ability and his contribution were often underappreciated, certainly by the wider public.
It’s a well-known fact among City fans that Edin Dzeko’s equaliser against Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the 2011/12 season is just as important as Sergio Aguero’s winner that day. And that without the Bosnian’s towering header Roberto Mancini’s team would never have won the league. But beyond those of a City persuasion, how many people truly remember that contribution? Certainly fewer than remember Aguero’s goal.
And yet all along, Dzeko was adamant that he wasn’t a ‘super sub’, even becoming annoyed when the label was put to him. And as endearing as that tag may have seemed to football fans, it certainly isn’t what the former Wolfsburg worked so hard to achieve as a professional footballer.
Sometimes it’s an apt description of a footballer who is more comfortable at scoring goals when defences are tired or disorganised. In Dzeko’s case, though, it was never apt at all. Indeed, when starting games regularly, and not having to play second fiddle to a worldwide superstar like Sergio Aguero, Dzeko is pretty lethal himself.
We’ve seen it in his two seasons with Roma already. Assured of his place up front in the Giallorossi side, the Bosnian has gone from strength to strength. With his ratio closer to a goal every three games for Manchester City, it’s closer to one every two for Roma, and that might well be why he’s wanted by Chelsea – even if reports suggest that a deal may not come to fruition, it certainly shows their interest.
There’s an obvious reason why.
The Bosnian striker isn’t just a good striker on Antonio Conte’s radar, he’s also one who seems to fit a very specific set of criteria which Chelsea seem to be after this January. With Andy Carroll, Peter Crouch and Ashley Barnes all mentioned in the same breath as the English champions this window, there’s a clear trend in the rumours emanating from Stamford Bridge. A target man of a centre forward seems to be the order of the day.
But despite that, the names themselves seem to suggest that they won’t be first choice. Carroll, were he not injured, would surely have been an impact player to play as a Plan B, the same would be said of Crouch and Barnes given either age, injury history or status in the game. Alvaro Morata is surely still the preferred first choice.
Dzeko would surely be a second choice signing, too. Certainly one of a better calibre, and probably also one who would put pressure on the Spaniard to perform. But you’d wonder why Chelsea would splash out on a second choice striker like the former City man when it’s been clear since his departure from England that he’s at his best when starting regularly.
Edin Dzeko is no super sub. He’s a top striker who will score plenty of goals when played regularly. But bringing him into the club in January and asking him to come off the bench and produce as a Plan B seems like a recipe for disaster, not a stroke of genius.