Bundesliga

Will It Be London Or Manchester For Bosnia’s Finest?

It’s incredible to think that Bosnian forward Edin Dzeko began his playing football for his youth side Zeljeznicar only a year after the ceasing of the hostilities of the Bosnian War.

Born and raised in Sarajevo, Dzeko, an unorthodox Muslim, amazingly survived the fierce confrontations and the Serbian ethnic cleansing between 1992 and 1995. “It was a hard time for everyone in the country,” he recalls. “There wasn’t much to eat, not really enough for three meals a day. I was very afraid every day. We were always having to hide when shots rang out or bombs fell. You could get shot at any time. I cried a lot in those days. Thank God the war is in the past.”

Now, remarkably, Dzeko, aged 24, is one of the most hotly touted personnel in world football.

The Bosnian continued playing for Zeljeznicar once he had turned senior in 2003 where he eventually made his debut as a midfielder. He had limited success during his first couple of seasons but a loan move to Usti nad Labern, a Czech second division club, provided a springboard to Czech Premier League outfit FK Teplice where his impressive performances brought him to the attention of Wolfsburg in 2007.

Dzeko was an instant hit. He finished his first season in the Bundesliga with eight goals and seven assists in seventeen games.

His outstanding performances along with those of his muscular strike-partner Grafite, who also joined the club in 2007, caused a rethink of Wolfsburg’s predominant 4-2-3-1. Manager Felix Magath advocated a switch to a system with two front men. The change quickly amplified the team’s efficacy: After garnering only 4 wins in 15 games before December, the reshuffle brought about 11 in 19. The following season, the combination of the Bosnian and the Brazilian Grafite (now the most successful combination in German league history), fostered a winning-streak of 10 games including a monumental 5-1 thrashing of Bayern Munich to take the German title to Die Wolfe’s for the first time in their history.

Despite Wolfsburg finishing a disappointing 8th this season, Dzeko defied the odds again by scoring 22 goals to become the Bundesliga’s top goal scorer. The striker’s astonishing strike-rate now stands at 54 goals in 94 appearances.

With Steve McClaren’s takeover of proceedings at the former German champions being greeted by a similar amount of confusion and questioning the board would have received had they appointed Keren Woodward from Bananarama, Dzeko is likely to reconsider his options this summer. AC Milan are rumoured to be his favoured choice; however, the striker, with an estimated value of around £25m, has claimed that he is willing to consider any interesting proposals. That, of course, will leave the door ajar for a Premier League transfer with Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea all rumoured to be interested.

The only presently foreseeable caveat is that Dzeko may require a robust partner for him to perform at his optimum.

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