Edin Dzeko has proven that Bosnians do have fun in the Premier League, but Vedad Ibisevic is a fading force Everton should steer clear of.
He’s a Bosnian international, he plays up front and he made his name appears in an under-fancied Bundesliga side. It’s not Edin Dzeko I’m thinking of though. It’s Hoffenheim striker Vedad Ibisevic, recently linked with Premier league side Everton as a potential answer to their goalscoring problems.
Upon Hoffenheim’s promotion to the Bundesliga in 2008, Ibisevic embarked on a remarkable run of form. In the first half of the season, he had 18 goals and seven assists to his name, in just 17 appearances, helping to take Hoffenheim to the top of the league. The club’s fans (all 3,000 odd of them) were dreaming of becoming champions and putting the crowning touch on their club’s astonishing ascent to the top of German football. Then disaster struck. On January 14th 2009, Ibisevic suffered a Michael Owen-style anterior cruciate ligament rupture in a league game against Hamburg, and was ruled out until the beginning of the 2009-10 season. Hoffenheim’s title bid naturally faltered without their talismanic striker, and they ended up with a still creditable 8th placed finish, largely thanks to the improved form of current Newcastle striker Demba Ba.
He’s still a good finisher, and will continue to make life difficult for defenders with his clever movement. But he’s now far more susceptible to injury.
As it turned out, Wolfsburg became league champions that season, and Dzeko/Grafite stole the headlines with their 26/28 goals, which helped fire the Wolves to their fist ever league championship. But how different it could have been had Ibisevic not suffered the injury. I’ll admit it takes a fair bit of extrapolation to say that Hoffenheim would have won the title that year, but after such a good start, it’s definitely possible. It could even have been Ibisevic and not Dzeko who secured a £27 million transfer to Manchester City. He returned to the first team at the beginning of the 2009-10 season and managed 14 goals in all competitions that season, which is no mean feat considering the seriousness of his injury – Michael Owen managed just three league appearances in the entire 06-07 season after his injury against Sweden. And last season Ibisevic finished with thirteen goals in 43 appearances.
Reading these statistics, it’s all the more regrettable that such a cruel injury befell him, and his club, at such a bad time. He’s found it difficult to adapt to the pace of the game since rupturing his ligament, and, as often happens after such an injury, he’s lost that half-yard of pace which gave him the edge over so many defenders in his debut season. He’s still a good finisher, and will continue to make life difficult for defenders with his clever movement. But he’s now far more susceptible to injury. He has already missed part of this season after suffering a torn groin muscle in a German Cup game before the Bundesliga kicked off. He only returned as a substitute last Saturday for Hoffenheim’s 2-0 derby defeat to Stuttgart, without making much of an impact.
Instead of referencing his erstwhile fantastic scoring record, people in Germany now regard Ibisevic as a decent player whose best years are behind him. He’s been unable to rediscover the form he showed three years ago, and he’s too often on the treatment table. It’s well-known that David Moyes doesn’t have much money to play with at Everton, and Ibisevic is still under contract until the summer of 2013. His current market value is estimated at €6 million, so Everton’s only option would be a loan move. But in any case, it would be far too much to expect him to score goals in England, considering his recent record and his injury problems. He has had quite enough difficulty adapting to the pace of the Bundesliga in the last two seasons; throwing him into a Premier league encounter away at Stoke, for example, would be enough to make him want to retire. David Moyes already has one talented, injury-prone forward in the Everton squad in the form of Louis Saha; he’d be better off trying to keep him fit and hoping Tim Cahill, Marouane Fellaini, Leon Osman, Denis Stracqualursi and Apollos Vellos can find the net with a little more regularity.
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