Dzeko determined to retain the Serie A top goalscorer award

(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

By DANIELLA MATAR

Associated Press

MILAN (AP) Edin Dzeko's apparent criticism of his coach has all but been forgotten.

Scoring goals can do that.

The Roma striker, who led Serie A in scoring last season with 29 league goals, has netted six already in the team's opening five matches.

Dzeko scored in Saturday's 3-1 win at Udinese, his fifth in three matches. That took his tally to 22 goals in 22 matches.

But two weeks ago, following a 0-0 draw with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, Dzeko said he felt isolated up front and that it would be tough to score as many goals, especially after the departure of Mohamed Salah to Liverpool.

The Bosnia and Herzegovina forward also said that they would adapt to the new system and improve but that was largely ignored and Dzeko had to apologize on social media the next day for his words being "interpreted as criticism."

Dzeko now seems to have adapted just fine to Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco's 4-3-3 system. He also set up the first of Stephan El Shaarawy's two goals on Saturday.

"What Edin and I said to each other will remain between him and me," Di Francesco said. "Dzeko has always scored goals, he's created a lot of chances and I've asked him for a different attitude when we defend to make another step up in quality, to become even greater.

"He is doing that readily and his conviction in what I'm asking him to do is growing."

Dzeko could face competition from El Shaarawy, who scored two goals in only his second start of the season.

The Italy forward, who reportedly had to be convinced to remain at Roma in the offseason, will be looking for more game time to again find that consistency that made him a top prospect five years ago at AC Milan.

"For me, Stephan is one of the starters now," Di Francesco said. "He's getting back to his best condition, he's one of the best in attacking deep, and he's the ideal forward for my system."

Dzeko's main challengers for the top scorer award will likely be Juventus forward Paulo Dybala, Lazio's Ciro Immobile and Napoli's Dries Mertens, who was runner-up last season with 28 goals.

Dybala already has 10 goals this season, while Immobile scored twice over the weekend to take his tally to eight.

Updated September 25, 2017

@STATS_Football