24. Edin Džeko
For AS Roma, the 2016-2017 season, in which the club achieved its highest point total in club history, it was not only a season full of team success, but also individual success. While there were many who performed valiantly for the Giallorossi such as Radja Nainggolan, Mohamed Salah, and Kevin Strootman, none were able to grab the headlines in the same fashion as Edin Džeko managed to do. It was a long way from the embarrassing and dismal first season that the Bosnian endured in the capital in 2015-2016. The former Wolfsburg #9 looked like his skills had diminished right before our eyes as he even became a bit of a punch line during his maiden season at Roma due to his astoundingly poor misses and lack of goal contribution.
Fast forward one season later and it looked like a completely different player on the pitch. We no longer saw the unsure, unconfident player who was on display in 2015-2016. We didn’t see the passive, lackadaisical striker who was handed big money by the Giallorossi. What we saw this season was a confident, professional, and decisive player who had a world class season. The Bosnian gave signs early in the season that he had perhaps overcome his demons from the first season. Roma’s #9 started this season with an absolute bang and sent a message throughout Italy and Europe: last season was a fluke.
Džeko managed 10 goals in Roma’s first ten league matches and this form continued throughout the season. Džeko ended the campaign as the leading scorer in both Serie A and Europa League, while finishing with 39 goals in 51 appearances in all competitions, numbers that haven’t been seen in the Eternal City in decades. Džeko’s season even managed to draw comparisons to one of most prolific names in Giallorossi history: Batistuta. Yes, not even Batigol managed to have a season for Roma like Džeko did. While the two certainly aren’t comparable in overall class, the statistics themselves paint quite a picture as to how successful the season of Džeko’s was.
Another area where Džeko managed to make a huge impact was off the pitch. Many of his teammates revealed throughout the season just how much the Bosnian means to the team in the dressing room. Again, the Džeko of this season wasn’t passive. He transformed himself into a leader and was quick to take responsibility in interviews if he failed to bury a shot or help in defense. He made it clear throughout Roma’s campaign that this was his team and that the Giallorossi would only go as far as he was able to carry them.
With the recent departure of Mohamed Salah, this year’s version of Džeko is going to be even more necessary for next season. The former Wolfsburg man will be leaned upon heavily by new manager Eusebio Di Francesco and will be tabbed with leading Roma’s attack, which was certainly dealt a blow after the Egyptian’s departure. But as Džeko showed this season, he still has class. He is still a goal scoring force that needs to be reckoned with. And finally, he is still a champion, one who certainly has the capability of leading Roma to silverware this upcoming season.
By: John Solano/@Solano_56