Antonio Conte is getting the best out of Romelu Lukaku, as he finally got to work with the Belgium international, so one can’t help but wonder how Edin Dzeko would’ve fared had he left Roma for Inter this summer.
It is uncertain whether the Bosnian will start against the team he almost joined just a few months ago, as he has been struggling with fluand has missed the last couple of training sessions. Considering Dzeko’s importance and the lack of alternatives in the Roma squad, his absence would be a huge blow for Paulo Fonseca.
However, while Dzeko has proved to be one of the most important players for the Giallorossi in recent years, it’s inevitable to wonder why Conte wanted a 33-year-old striker so badly at Inter during the summer?
In order to answer that question, we should probably start by saying that Conte really needed a big centre-forward who can partner up with Lautaro Martinez. Eventually, Inter signed Lukaku, but getting the Belgian seemed very unlikely at the beginning of the summer, so the Nerazzurri had to look for alternatives.
It’s safe to say that Dzeko is among the best in the world in his role and this is showcased by his trophy cabinet, which includes six major trophies in England and Germany.
During his Manchester City days, Edin won the Premier League twice, scoring a combined tally of 30 goals in both seasons, while he also played a key role in Wolfsburg’s unlikely Bundesliga triumph in 2009, netting 26 times.
With Conte often complaining that his current crop of players lack winning mentality and experience, it’s easy to see why the former Juventus boss was keen on bringing the Bosnian to Milan.
While all this seems pretty clear, it was still puzzling to see Conte wanting the Roma striker even after Lukaku’s arrival. Inter had just spent €65m for a striker with very similar qualities and yet, they were still chasing the Bosnian.
Dzeko’s contract with Roma was expiring and despite his advanced age, it was obvious that getting him for a reported fee close to €15m would’ve been a bargain.
We should also assume that Conte was taking into consideration the fact that Lukaku didn’t have any Serie A experience and was in a very poor physical condition. The 26-year-old wasn’t getting regular playing time at Manchester United, which meant that there was a very good chance he would struggle in Italy initially.
Eventually, Lukaku silenced the doubters, but at the time starting the season without a seasoned Serie A striker must’ve seemed like a huge risk for Conte. Therefore, Dzeko’s arrival would’ve solved multiple issues, as the Bosnian would’ve added not only depth, experience and winning mentality at a relatively cheap price, but also more versatility.
At first glance, Lukaku and Dzeko seem very similar. So far this season, both strikers have 70% passing accuracy and have averaged 22 passes per game. However, the similarities don’t stop there, as both win circa 3.5 aerial duels and also average 1 shot and 1 key pass per game. Lukaku and Dzeko have also scored the exact same number of goals from open play (9) as well as from set pieces (2).
It’s very rare to see such similarities in stats between players from different teams with completely different playing systems and philosophies.
However, it should be said that Lukaku is far more mobile than Dzeko and likes to look for spaces out wide and around the penalty area, while the Bosnian is most effective close to goal. The Belgian’s pace also means that he could potentially pair with another big man up front, while having two players of such aerial prowess would’ve made Inter virtually unbeatable in the air.
At the end Dzeko to Inter wasn’t meant to be and the striker signed a new contract with Roma. Considering that Conte also tried to get him during his Chelsea days, it’s obvious that the Nerazzurri boss is very fond of the Bosnian’s qualities.
While Inter are doing more than fine without Dzeko in their ranks for the time being, it’s easy to see why Conte wanted him in the first place.
However, with Edin still wearing the Roma colours, he has not become one of the symbols of this team. His record of three goals and as many assists against both Milan clubs at San Siro, the veteran would be the biggest threat for Inter, if he manages to recover in time.