A clearer message could not have been sent. All the rumours and speculation, months of claims he would be leaving, ready to quit – all of that can be cast aside. Edin Dzeko is a part of Roma.
There had been growing optimism that the striker would be staying with Roma this season, despite intense interest from Inter Milan, but the manner in which his stay has been announced was eye-catching to say the least. The thought had been that Dzeko would see out his final year of his contract, or sign a single-year extension, ready to leave next summer. Instead, Roma have made an emphatic move.
Granted, some eyebrows may be raised over the length of the deal, with Dzeko now on contract until he will be 36. But in doing so, Roma have shown a justified faith in their Bosnian hero.
This is the boldest move that Gianluca Petrachi has made yet in his short time as sporting director, and will be one that could make or break the early judgement of him. But whether you agree with the length of the agreement or not, the 50-year-old has to be praised for the strength he has shown to complete this negotiation.
Previous directors at Roma have buckled under the pressure to sell, leading to the likes of Mohamed Salah being sold for far less than their realistic value. In the case of Dzeko, though, Petrachi set his stall out early on, demanding not a cent less than the €20m he deemed Dzeko to be worth. And by extending his contract until 2022, Petrachi has sent a further strong message about the Bosnian’s future. Those rumours will not be allowed to persist.
Dzeko’s quality has been given the appreciation it deserves here. At times last season, he was made a scapegoat, as an experienced player performing far below his normal level. But Roma know him well enough to understand that last year was not a true reflection of his quality. Again, in the past the club have been somewhat short-sighted by moving on players at the first sign of decline. Now, they have gained a better appreciation of the value of leaders like Dzeko, recognising the quality is still there, waiting to be unleashed.
And unleashed, it should be. Dzeko is made for Paulo Fonseca’s system, and was a class above the rest in the pre-season outing against Real Madrid recently. The 33-year-old’s best years with Roma came when he was the focal point of Luciano Spalletti’s 4-2-3-1 system, helping him to break club records that had stood for nearly a century. Under Fonseca, he will be able to occupy a similar position, thriving on what he does best: getting involved with the build-up play before arriving in the right positions to create danger in attacking zones.
His leadership will also come to the fore, with his level of commitment shown through this renewal being an indication of the passion he feels for the club. Sometimes his body language on the pitch may not have suggested that last season, but whose did? Dzeko has been re-inspired, and will be using his vast experience to help guide the younger players.
He is a silent leader, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Dzeko leads by example rather than voice; a contrast to the way Daniele De Rossi captained Roma, but a valuable aspect of a winning team nonetheless. Francesco Totti, for example, was never a fist-pumping, shouting, motivational leader. But he wore the armband with fierce pride for the best part of two decades. Dzeko will never reach the levels of admiration that his former teammate did, but he will be a similar vital focal point for a team undergoing a period of transition.
Yes, his signing means Roma can all-but end their dreams of signing Mauro Icardi, but that was always an unrealistic ambition. Dzeko has shown that he can be just as effective, and maintaining him provides Roma with the stability they need.
While Icardi is the more highly-rated striker, keeping Dzeko can be just as beneficial for Roma as if they had landed the former Inter captain. Some big leaders have left Trigoria this summer, so keeping the experienced Dzeko can help ease the transition as the new faces settle in. He already knows the surroundings and will be able to kick on straight away – whereas any new addition would have required time to settle, just like he did when he first arrived.
Four years on, though, Roma is Dzeko’s home. He has already written his name in the history books thanks to his record-breaking 2016-17 and the role he played in Roma’s quest to the Champions League semi-finals the year after. Having outscored the likes of Marco Delvecchio, Rudi Voller and Giuseppe Giannini, he is now breathing down the necks of Roma’s 100 club.
Dzeko has every chance of passing that landmark this season, needing just 13 more goals to bring up his century for the club. It’s a tally he should reach with ease, given that Roma are competing in the Europa League group stages. The last time he played in the competition for Roma, he finished as the tournament’s joint-top scorer, despite Spalletti’s side being eliminated with three rounds remaining. With the Giallorossi likely to get a favourable draw this time around, it would be foolish to bet against Dzeko thriving on the biggest stages for Roma once again.
It’s time for Dzeko to truly become a legend.