Dzeko Will Define New City Era
(This article appeared in The New Paper, Singapore on January 18)
Big money transfers can be a source of great anxiety for football fans, but Manchester City supporters can rest easy. Edin Dzeko will be a fine addition to Roberto Mancini‘s team. The towering Bosnian striker has everything it takes to be a huge success in English football.
A prodigious goalscorer in the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg, Dzeko has the height to be a threat at set-pieces, the close control to find space even in the packed defences of the Premier League and, most importantly, the ruthless streak to rattle in goal after goal. At €32m, he could hardly be described as a bargain, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t prove to be value for money.
And yet Dzeko was never expected to be a success. A teenage midfielder with tiny FK Zeljeznicar, he was deemed too erratic and unrefined to go far in the game. Jiri Plisek, his Czech coach for a short period in 2004, saw a glimmer of potential in him and recommended him to FC Teplice. When they paid €25,000 for him in 2005, a Zeljeznicar director was moved to remark that it felt like a lottery win. How must he feel now?
After an impressive loan spell with Usti nad Labem, Dzeko returned to Teplice and finally clicked into gear. 13 goals in 30 games won him the top goalscorer award and attracted the attention of Wolfsburg who signed him in 2007 for €4m. He started slowly in Germany, with a modest 8 goals in his first season, but caught light in his second campaign, hitting 26 as Wolfsburg made a late charge for the Bundesliga title. Having shed the awkwardness of his teenage years and adjusted to his enormous frame, Dzeko became an almost unstoppable goal machine. He will do the same in England.
Whether or not he can strike up a partnership with Carlos Tevez is a different question entirely. The rumour mill at the Eastlands suggests that the Argentine talisman is still intent on leaving in the summer. Nevertheless, Dzeko is more than capable of leading the line on his own. With his height and strength, he can be the focal point of City’s strategy, holding up the ball to bring team-mates like David Silva and Adam Johnson into the game. He’s an obvious target for set-pieces, a more determined workhorse than Emmanuel Adebayor and a grounded individual, noted in his home country for his generosity and loyalty to old friends.
City have been accused of having a scattergun approach to transfer policy, but this is a signing that will worry that entire continent. A player like Dzeko has the potential to define a team in the way that Thierry Henry came to define Arsenal. If he settles into Manchester, and his excellent command of the English language suggests that he will, City have a real chance to push on and dominate what appears to be a weakened top flight.
German defenders have long become accustomed to the ominous gloom of Dzeko’s shadow drifting into their airspace. He rises above them like a gunship over a hilltop. For every other club‘s sake, you hope that their English counterparts have been watching. Tall, powerful, skilful and merciless, Dzeko is their worst nightmare. On Saturday, Wolves were lucky to face him as he found his feet, but he won’t take long to settle. Be afraid. Be very afraid.