One lesson that footballers tend to learn the hard way is that the grass isn’t necessarily always greener on the other side. Take Alexis Sanchez, for example. In January 2018, he left Arsenal - where he was the star of the show and one of the Premier League’s best players - for Manchester United, where his stock dramatically decreased. Sanchez, now at Inter, spoke recently of how he regretted leaving Arsenal as soon as he started training at Carrington.
Roma’s Edin Dzeko could do with reminding himself of Sanchez’s story. For two seasons in a row now, Dzeko has seen a potential move to a bigger club collapse at the last hurdle. Last year, it was Inter, this time Juventus.
Like Sanchez at Arsenal, Dzeko is the star of the show at his club. In fact, if anything, Roma are a little too dependent on him and there is a feeling that he was carrying the team at points last season. He would’ve likely been relegated to a supporting role had one of his moves gone through, playing second fiddle to one of Romelu Lukaku or Cristiano Ronaldo. He might not have even been a guaranteed starter.
Dzeko probably knew that. Look at it from his perspective. He’s not getting any younger and has been with Roma for five years, with zero silverware to show for it, and no expectation that they’ll be winning any in the near future. The 34-year-old probably saw a move to one of Inter or Juventus as his last chance to win a Scudetto, or at the very least a Coppa Italia.
At what cost would he have won that silverware, though? Dzeko’s primary job is to bang them in, week in, week out. And he’s very good at it. But at Juventus, that’s Cristiano Ronaldo’s job and no one’s taking that away from him. Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata would complement Ronaldo far better than Dzeko would. On that basis, Juventus and Dzeko may have turned out to be an odd fit, and the Bosnian might’ve found himself on the trash heap like Gonzalo Higuain one year down the line.
Considering this possibility, Dzeko staying at Roma is probably for the best. He might not win a trophy, but he’ll be the first name on that team sheet for at least a couple more years, not to mention that his family are reported to be very settled in Rome.
It’s also the best possible outcome for Roma. They get to keep their captain and best player and buy themselves time to gradually reduce their reliance on him. Napoli’s Arkadiusz Milik would have been a decent replacement, but it’s difficult to imagine him having the same kind of impact as Dzeko.
Hopefully, Dzeko will see these failed moves as a sign that his future lies in Rome. As Roma transition into a new era under Dan Friedkin, it’s important that the club isn’t destabilised; losing their talisman and captain might have done that. Dzeko also deserves - after spending his peak years living under Sergio Aguero’s shadow at Manchester City - to continue being the star of the show at Roma.