ROME (AP) – Edin Džeko has been linked with many different destinations and involved in so much controversy thisthat it’s been hard to keep track. In September, he was so close to joining Juventus that he momentarily stopped playing for Roma. In January, there was a supposed swap deal set up with for Alexis Sánchez. Then came a falling out with , resulting in him being stripped of Roma’s captaincy.
But Džeko never left the Italian capital, and now he’s returning to his former home city in England to lead the Giallorossi against Manchestersemifinals on Thursday.
“There have been a lot of highs and lows this. I had some tough to many things, but I wouldn’t say I like to look back. What happened happened,” Džeko said recently. “We need to look forward. We’re in the semifinals, which many people didn’t expect. We’ve got to enjoy ourselves because it’s not every week that you get to play at Old Trafford.”
Džeko, though, knows what it means to visit United as an opponent. He did it for five seasons with Manchesterbefore joining Roma in 2015 – and scored six goals in the Manchester derby.
“Since I leftsix years ago, I’ve never been back,” Džeko told UEFA.com. “It will be a special it was a derby for me until a few years ago.” Two other Roma players, defender Chris Smalling, and midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, previously played for United.
Smalling joined Roma on loan in 2019 after nine years with. He made a move permanent last year after a solid first this campaign.
Smalling and his family were also recently the target of an armed robbery inside their home in Rome, after which he said they were “very shaken up.”
While Smalling missed the quarterfinals against Ajax, he’s expected to take over in defense for the suspended Gianluca Mancini in the first leg in Manchester.
Smalling and the rest of Roma’s defenders will be tasked with containing high-scoring United forwards Edinson Cavani and Marcus Rashford.
As for Mkhitaryan, who, like Smalling, played on the United team that won thein 2017, is also working his way back into form following his injury.
For Roma fans, the game presents a chance for revenge following United’s 7-1 rout at– a game that current United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer played in.
With that game in mind, Giallorossi supporters have seized on recent comments from Solskjaer, who reportedly said he “doesn’t know Roma well” and hadn’t seen them play.
Roma fans responded by pasting posters of Solskjaer around their city accompanied by a message: “Make it, so he remembers us!”