Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Edin Dzeko is described by many as the complete centre-forward. Matthias Kern / Getty Images
Edin Dzeko is described by many as the complete centre-forward. Matthias Kern / Getty Images

Edin Dzeko completes Manchester City attack

Former teammates of the Bosnian striker believe Manchester City have purchased Europe's finest centre-forward.

Edin Dzeko showed a decent grasp of English when he gave his first press conference as a Manchester City footballer on Tuesday.

He also provided some of the standard riffs that still accompany any superstar into Eastlands, emphasising City's high status, talking of their "exciting project" and made a studied reference to the old, and sometimes disputed idea, that City are somehow a club more rooted in their own locale than their more famous neighbours, Manchester United.

"I understand City have more supporters in Manchester," he said.

Dzeko's arrival at a heavyweight football club has seemed inevitable for at least the past two years.

The fee which City agreed to pay Wolfsburg, some 35 million (Dh154m), is the highest ever received by a Bundesliga team for a transfer.

Even this month, once it was known that Wolfsburg would sell Dzeko in the winter transfer window, a competing interest from Juventus had been persistent. Real Madrid and AC Milan in the past have coveted Dzeko, as have Bayern Munich.

What they all saw in the 24-year-old was a striker well suited to modern football, a physically powerful goalscorer whose ability stood out even in "underdog" sides.

For Wolfsburg, who have struggled for the past six months to create goals, he has still managed 10 in 17 German top-flight games this term. Add the 48 he contributed to Wolfsburg's last two campaigns, and you have close to a guaranteed 20-plus-goals-a-season man.

Now put into the equation the 31 assists he also supplied in that time, and he is clearly more than just a strong target man, a six-yard-box predator.

The effectiveness is also reflected in his international record. Thanks to Dzeko's 17 goals in 31 matches, Bosnia-Herzegovina - not generally a free-scoring side- have reached unprecedented heights.

Last November they narrowly missed out on qualifying for their first major, senior finals, losing to Portugal in the play-offs for the 2010 World Cup.

The word most often used to describe Dzeko the centre-forward is "complete". It was offered by Jerome Boateng, the City defender most familiar with Dzeko's work, having played - while Boateng was with Hamburg - in the same Bundesliga as Dzeko until last summer.

"He's good with his head, his right foot and left foot," Boateng said.

Dzeko's 22 goals last term made him the Bundesliga's highest scorer. His 26 in Wolfsburg's title-winning 2008/09 campaign had put him just behind his colleague, Grafite, in that list.

For all the verve that players such as Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben have given - when fit - to Bayern in recent years, Dzeko still emerged as the German league's most devastating forward.

He was allowed to develop thanks to the strong hunches of a couple of scouts. First, it was Jiri Plesik, at the Czech club Teplice. Plesik spotted the 6ft-tall teenager playing for Zeljenicar of Sarajevo and offered 80,000. Zeljenicar directors were apparently pleasantly surprised by the sum.

Dzeko had been a midfielder for much of his time there and had been thought too awkward and gangly to make it as a high-class striker, though they admired his industry.

Dzeko, like many Bosnians of his generation, has had to work hard for his success.

He was born in Sarajevo and grew up to the sounds and anxieties of the Balkan conflict. His family home would be destroyed during the war, meaning that he, his parents, brothers, sisters and cousins spent long periods crammed into his grandparents' house.

After two good years with Teplice, Felix Magath, the then Wolfsburg head coach, got an urgent tip from his assistant Bernd Hollerbach.

"I've found a jewel," he reported. "We've got to sign him now." Wolfsburg paid 4m to Teplice in 2007.

Dzeko made an quick impression. "He had a great will to win," recalls the tall, muscular Grafite, with whom the Bosnian would share a productive partnership.

"We worked well together because we understood each other. He'll do the same with Carlos Tevez or Mario Balotelli at City, even though they are very different players from me."

Mario Mandzukic, the Croatian midfielder who became one of Dzeko's closest friends at Wolfsburg, said: "For me, he's the best striker in Europe. He'll score lots of goals in England, for sure."

And Mandzukic believes Dzeko will also prove a popular figure in the City dressing room. "I will miss him," he said. "When I came to Wolfsburg, because we spoke the same language, he looked after me and we spent a lot of time together off the pitch. He's a good guy."

Those are qualities that encouraged Steve McClaren, the former England manager who took over as Wolfsburg coach last summer, to make Dzeko the club captain.

"He has a strong and positive personality," Diego Benaglio, the Wolfsburg goalkeeper, said. "I hope he'll be happy at Manchester City. He wanted to move on, to find a new challenge, and I'm sure he'll succeed there."


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 The seventh edition of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament was kicking off at Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi on Wednesday with plenty of excitement in store. Ravindranath K / The National

In pictures: IPL 7 kicks off in Abu Dhabi

The first match in the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament, between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders, was held at Zayed Cricket Stadium amid plenty of colour.

 Al Rayyan's Yakubu Ayegbeni, left, tries to escape the attention of Jazira's Khamis Ismail. Karim Jaafar / AFP Photo

Late strike qualifies Al Jazira for last 16 of Asian Champions League

A dramatic late goal gave Al Jazira a 3-2 victory at Al Rayyan of Qatar in the Asian Champions League (ACL) on Wednesday night and it was just enough to push Walter Zenga’s side into the knockout stages.

 Zayed Cricket Stadium had not witnessed so electrcic an atmosphere before Wednesday evening. Pawan Singh / The National

Packed house gathers in Abu Dhabi for Indian Premier League opener

In less than half a day, Zayed Cricket Stadium witnessed the force that is Indian cricket, with the sound drowning out the controversies that have dogged the Twenty20 tournament, writes Osman Samiuddin.

 Lionel Messi of Barcelona looks down after being defeated during the Copa del Rey Final between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona at Estadio Mestalla on April 16, 2014 in Valencia, Spain. David Ramos/Getty Images

Plenty of life still in Barcelona, says Gerardo Martino

Barcelona coach maintained his side can still return to their former glories after they were beaten 2-1 by a Gareth Bale-inspired Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final.

 Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton, left, and Nico Rosberg at the official press conference following qualifying for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 15, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. Mark Thompson/Getty Images

F1: Toto Wolff says Mercedes have all the right ingredients in place

With Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg at the wheel, Mercedes have so far dominated the first three grands prix going into this weekend’s fourth round in China.

 Sunderland manager Gus Poyet, left, reacts as Manchester City's manager Manuel Pellegrini looks on during their English Premier League football match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on April 16, 2014. The match ended in a 2-2 draw. AFP PHOTO/Andrew YATES

Poyet says ‘I am sure that Luis Suarez is going to be happy’ after Sunderland draw at Manchester City

Sunderland’s survival chances remain slim because now they face Chelsea away at the weekend but manager Gus Poyet insists they are not trying to benefit Liverpool or his fellow Uruguayan, Luis Suarez.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National