Why Manchester City Must Keep Edin Dzeko in Sky Blue
For Edin Dzeko, scoring goals is a way of life. A way to make a living, a way to make an impression and a reflection on how far he has come from the obscure quarters of Bosnian football.
Unfortunately for him, while his goal-scoring exploits almost guarantee him a spot in his country's national team, goals do not always equal more playing time at his club Manchester City.
Rather, the Bosnia & Herzegovina international is left to rue the tag of being a 'super sub', like former Manchester United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. His tendency to score when introduced to the action has earned him the infamous tag, with many condemning him for his lack of effort when handed a starting berth.
With his combination of precise finishing, cool composure and confidence in his own ability, he is a valuable asset to the team. Yet, his contributions are more than often limited to coming from the bench, leaving him frustrated and disillusioned.
When Dzeko signed for Manchester City from German Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg in January 2011, his arrival went almost unnoticed, despite costing a hefty £27 million. He was, however, expected to figurehead the City attack with Carlos Tevez.
His switch to the Citizens was trumped first by Andy Carroll, who moved to Liverpool from Newcastle for £35 million, and then Fernando Torres, joining Chelsea for a British transfer record fee of £50 million from the Merseyside club.
In a way, it was a blessing in disguise. Both Carroll and Torres have received unrivaled amounts of media scrutiny since their big-money switches to their respective clubs, while any noticeable dip in form for Dzeko usually goes by without much more than a mutter.
Nevertheless, it must bother the 26-year-old that his striking partners Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli have all taken the plaudits for their purple patches during their time at the Etihad Stadium, while the club's leading scorer in the Premier League is left to warm the bench.
Granted, his return of 13 goals in 30 appearances in all competitions this season is respectable but hardly prolific, especially when you consider Fernando Torres has scored 15 goals this campaign.
Sure, his technical ability may not be of the highest quality; his towering frame of 6'4" means he is not as agile or skillful as the likes of David Silva or Samir Nasri.
None of that matters though when you consider how he adds an extra dimension to the Citizens' play when they struggle to produce their best football. Only the likes of Christian Benteke and Rickie Lambert can lay the claim they are better at heading than Dzeko.
His finishing is almost always impeccable, and as a striker, that's an required trait. After all, his job is to put the ball in the back of the net, which—to his credit—he does fairly regularly.
Moreover, in comparison to his teammates Aguero (11 goals in 28 matches) and Tevez (15 in 33) does he really deserve to sit out while the Argentine duo struggle to reproduce their magical form from last season? Can Roberto Mancini justify leaving out one of the most feared strikers in the Premier League?
To answer that question, the intelligent folk over at WhoScored.com have worked out that the former Teplice striker has scored six goals from 15 games on the bench, while netting seven from his 15 starts. Perhaps this can be seen as an indication to how his versatility in scoring, either from starting positions or from the substitutes bench, are key to helping Manchester City to victory.
For any doubters, let's not forget who came on to score the equalizer in that famous 3-2 win over QPR 10 months ago.
In addition to that, critics who continue to choose to patronize Dzeko by dismissing him merely as a 'super sub' may well be surprised to discover that a striker paid in excess of £120,000 per week can score when he is thrown into the starting lineup. Shocker.
With all sarcasm aside, the reality is that being undervalued and unappreciated at the club for far too long has left the hitman with no choice other than to look for another club.
And when he was asked about the speculation surrounding Dzeko's future, Mancini did little to curb talk of a move to Borussia Dortmund, admitting a summer exit was 'possible'.
He did add that he would like to keep the forward if possible, playing the "he's an important player for us" card. It could be a ploy so that if he does indeed decide to leave, Mancini could lead on the fact that he never wanted him to leave. He's a wise man, that Roberto.
Either way, the facts are simple. Edin Dzeko will score a shed-load of goals wherever he goes. Whether that is at Manchester City or at another club is irrelevant.
What is imperative is that if the club are serious about mounting a challenge for the Premier League and Champions League next season, they need players of his caliber in their squad.
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