Edin Dzeko could be on his way back to the Premier League. According to reports in the Italian press, the Roma striker has already agreed personal terms with West Ham.
Having worked under Manuel Pellegrini at Manchester City for a season — the most prolific of his time in England, in which he scored 26 goals and City secured the title — it makes sense that the Chilean is looking to the experience of Dzeko to help bolster what is a weak area for the Irons.
Though Pellegrini has the likes of Javier Hernandez, Andy Carroll and Marko Arnautovic at his disposal in attack, none have managed to carve out a solid starting role due to injuries and lack of form.
The arrival of Dzeko would almost certainly see the exit of at least one of the above. Arnautovic was heavily linked with an exit in January, while Carroll has been courted by his former club Newcastle.
The move for a striker of the calibre of Dzeko is a clear indication from Pellegrini of his intended direction of travel with West Ham. The Bosnian has bloomed into one of world football’s most deadly strikers since joining Roma, the epitome of a “1 in 2” forward, with 85 goals in 172 games in his four seasons in the Italian capital, though his ratio has certainly dropped in recent campaigns.
At 33, Dzeko is not a long term solution for the East London club, by any means, but with talk of a two-year deal and a staggering £165k a week offer, he could most certainly fill a problem position in the present.
With only 12 months left on his current deal, it’s likely the Bosnian will available for a much lower figure than the €20 million touted by Roma in January — somewhere between €10–15 million would surely convince the Italians to cash in on their ageing asset.
Either that or they risk losing him for nothing only months later, with the Bosman rule allowing for Dzeko to agree to a deal in January with a club outside of Italy, ahead of a move in the summer.
Despite his obvious quality, Dzeko isn’t having his best season for the Giallorossi, with only seven league goals to his name, and rumours of rifts and even physical bust-ups with teammates. With that in mind, it seems Roma are much keener to offload him now, and at least recoup some of their investment.
Would Dzeko still be able to cut it in the Premier League? It’s a difficult question. Though he was always a decent player for City, his best form has arguably come since leaving the Citizens and plying his trade in the more traditionally slower-paced Serie A.
He was something of a sensation in the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg, managing 26 goals in the 2009/10 campaign — which is what piqued City’s interest in him in the first place — but that was ten years ago. He was never blessed with explosive pace, but at 23 in that Wolfsburg side, he certainly possessed more than he does now a decade later.
On the other hand, in the last few seasons, Dzeko has refined his strengths and learnt how to play to them. In his time at City, the forward averaged around 2 shots per match from within the penalty area. For Roma, that average has increased to around 3 — a fifty percent improvement.
As such, it’s fair to say his positional play and more out-and-out attacking traits have got better since his Italian switch.
West Ham have put 534 crosses into the box this campaign, yet have only managed 36 goals from inside the area. It’s this low conversion rate that has seen them stall in midtable, with a significant gap between themselves and the teams above challenging for the last Europa League spot.
With the likes of Felipe Anderson, Manuel Lanzini and Robert Snodgrass all able to provide the creative set up, an out-and-out finisher like Dzeko may well thrive in such a system.
Either way, if West Ham do manage to pull off this signing, it’s a clear signal to the rest of the league where their ambitions lie.