Are City right to consider off-loading Edin Dzeko?

Dzeko-Inter-Milan

Edin Dzeko looks likely to leave City in the summer; perhaps sooner, himself stating that he’d like a move back to Germany. Even last summer the Bosnian forward was widely linked with a move to Serie A. But why hasn’t it worked out for Dzeko? On the face of it, his goal scoring record for City is very good; arguably he is the most prolific striker that the club have in their ranks.

Statistical comparison

Below is a statistical comparison of Dzeko and other City forwards:

Goals Mins per goal Clear cut chance conversion Minutes played Mins per chance created Final third pass acc Aerial duel success
Dzeko 10 89 57% 889 52 64% 46%
Aguero 8 152 33% 1218 45 78% 19%
Tevez 7 196 45% 1369 38 82% 29|%
Balotelli 1 588 11% 588 74 71% 21%

If we consider this table Dzeko is easily the clubs most prolific scorer this campaign with by far the best goals per minute ratio, as well as having the best clear cut chance conversion. Interestingly Dzeko has only started one more game than Balotelli this season, despite a vastly better strike rate. Tevez and Aguero have played the most for the club with Mancini clearly preferring the two Argentinians up front. Just eight starts for Dzeko this campaign is bizarre considering his impressive goal scoring record.

As stated Mancini was probably prepared to let Dzeko go last summer and likely would let him go now to bring in Cavani. One of the main reasons for this is that he prefers using the more fluid Aguero and Tevez in the 4-2-3-1 formation as the two players can interchange, offer more mobility and are technically superior to Dzeko.

Style of play is probably the key determinant here. If we assess Tevez and Aguero, the preferred pairing we can see that they are both superior technically than Dzeko. Both players have a higher final third pass accuracy, quite considerably, as well as creating chances for team-mates more frequently. Dzeko on the other hand has a very low pass completion, indicating that his link-up is perhaps not as fluid as his team-mates; further to this he is also not the most mobile of strikers, compared to the two Argentineans who are notably small and nimble.

Dzeko as a Plan B

The result of the above is that Dzeko represents an excellent Plan B off the bench. A role the Bosnian probably is not happy with.

This is Dzeko’s heat map from the game against Spurs were he made a great cameo appearance scoring the winning goal to give his side the three points. His movement is focused in central areas, compared to Aguero or Tevez who cover far more ground. This is how he scored his goal, playing off the shoulder of the last defender, getting in behind the back four to score his volley. Against a side they are losing to, defending deep, he can represent a real threat off the bench, especially considering his obvious aerial ability. This does suit Dzeko but his excellent performance against Arsenal demonstrated that he does have a lot to offer from the start. Despite missing a penalty he led the line well and offered a great outlet ball for City with his aerial prowess, capping his performance with the crucial second goal. His heatmap from this game is below:

Dzeko

His movement here is typical for a centre forward and demonstrates that he does get into the channels and work across the field. In fact this is very similar to Aguero’s heat map from the last fixture he led the line against Newcastle featured below:

Aguero

Both players played the full 90 minutes in these respective games. Both players also enjoyed a similar number of touches. The only difference is that Dzeko is more physical, whilst Aguero is more mobile and able to run at defenders. Tevez and Aguero are City’s top dribblers with 1.3 and 1.8 dribbles per game respectively; Dzeko on the other hand has only attempted 5 dribbles all season, about 0.3 per game. This is where he doesn’t fit in as well as Tevez and Aguero, who as stated can feature up front but also in one of the three attacking roles behind a central striker, able to rotate and interchange effectively. Dzeko on the other hand is far more rigid from a tactical stand point, unable to drop into deeper positions and link the play effectively, demonstrated by his weaker pass accuracy.

Conclusion

City are probably wrong if they do want to let go of Dzeko, but it is understandable. The Bosnian centre-forward has a great goal scoring record in the last two seasons and has been as reliable as ever this term. Despite being City’s top scorer it looks incredibly likely that he will leave in the summer, as stated in the introduction, likely to Germany or Serie A. Dzeko doesn’t really look like the sort of player Mancini wants to build a side around, even though he has proven that he is a prolific goal scorer. Much of this is probably a result of the fact that he is more a traditional centre-forward than the mobile Aguero or Tevez. Cavani and Falcao are also arguably more glamorous options, with almost unrivalled strike rates in Europe. Whatever happens this summer, Dzeko will surely be regarded as a success, despite enduring a difficult first season with the club.

3 comments for “Are City right to consider off-loading Edin Dzeko?

  1. Sam
    January 16, 2013 at 00:08

    Good article Amit. Eye-opener.

  2. Ben
    January 16, 2013 at 22:27

    Really good article explaining Dzeko’s performance compared to other strikers. I would make a prediction that all those numbers would be even better if he is given more regular time on the pitch.

  3. mike
    January 17, 2013 at 21:11

    He has what the other 3 strikers seem not to have and thats BRAINS..Just because you play football doesnt mean you dont have to use ur head– how many times have I seen Aguero or Tevez not willing to pass the ball to dzeko who would have clear chance of scoring…

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