Friday, April 20, 2018

Mario Mandzukic: European globetrotter on the move again?

Milos Markovic in Editorial, Serie A 1 Oct 2016

Does Mandzukic deserves a better chance at Juve this season? / Image via

Does Mandzukic deserves a better chance at Juve this season? / Image via

Last couple of seasons have been fairly frustrating for Croatia international striker Mario Mandzukic who could be on the move once again, for the third time in just two years’ period.

The towering striker has gained somewhat a reputation of a footballing nomad as he went from Bayern to Atletico and over to Serie A champions Juventus in unexpectedly short timeline for a player of his calibre.

Just little over a year since his arrival to Turin, the 30-year-old striker is being linked with a move away from Juventus but there is plenty to suggest that the Croat was being perhaps undeservedly pushed over to the margins in his last three clubs. And that is exactly the main topic I am willing to explore in this article.

Juventus stint coming to an end?

Increasing reports from France indicate that Paris Saint-Germain are interested in acquiring Mandzukic’s services.

Seen as good complement to Edinson Cavani, Mario Mandzukic is perhaps closest to being the best Zlatan Ibrahimovic replacement PSG could find. Tall but mobile, the Coratian striker boasts similarly unpredictable temper and character, but also the athletic abilities that make him a great danger upfront.

Despite the fact Max Allegri holds Mandzukic in high regard, Juventus could use the opportunity to re-open talks for Blaise Matuidi and use Mandzukic as counterweight in talks with the French champions.

The Old Lady saw their summer advances to Matuidi collapse and forthcoming winter market could be a good opportunity to rekindle the interest.

One of the biggest problems for any potential deal involving the two players is the fact that both Mandzukic and Matuidi have already played in the Champions League, which means that neither one of them would be able to play for another club in the competition until the end of the season.

Unfairly Marginalized

The experienced striker has made seven appearances in all competitions for Juventus this season, but is yet to find the back of the net.

Mandzukic has been used sporadically and will have Gonzalo Higuain’s raging form to blame for such turn of events, since club record signing has been rather in impressive shape since his arrival from Napoli.

Having been brought from Atletico for a fee worth €19 million, Mario Mandzukic has been under constant scrutiny with the Italian public often criticizing his influence in the team. However, Mandzukic is a born goal scorer with clear instinct for goal and has a great tally to account for such a claim.

He has scored goals everywhere he had played, starting from Dinamo Zagreb, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid and I am pretty sure he will be able to find his footing this season once he is given an extended stretch.

Mandzukic has made full 90 minutes just once this season and will be hopeful to get a bigger piece of action this Sunday at Empoli.

The 30-year-old Croatia international is 6/5 betting odds to find the back of the net and open his scoring account at the weekend.

Even though his overall statistics have seen a slight decline over the past few seasons, there is something hidden in between the numbers which an inexperienced eye could miss as Mandzukic’s work-rate and team effort should not be undermined.

Strong aerial presence as he is, Mandzukic is great at holding on to the ball and at doing layoffs to his teammates. He might not be the quickest and most mobile of the attackers, but his strong finish and immense defensive contribution are definitely one of his stronger suits.

Always in the shadows

Mario Mandzukic fans were disappointed to see their favoured striker being sacrificed for the sake of Robert Lewandowski at Bayern Munich, but the Croatian was seemingly given a chance for a fresh start at Atletico Madrid in 2014.

Only 28 La Liga games later and Mandzukic was on the move again as his at times vital contribution and team effort failed to convince Diego Simeone to give him an extended shot at Vicente Calderon. With Antoine Griezmann on the rise and Fernando Torres back in the club, the experienced Croatian was sent on another journey.

Always in the shadows of someone else, Mandzukic had to fight for his place under the sun at Juventus too with Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata competing for the starting line-up last term, but his job now seems a lot harder as he is facing a club-record signing from Napoli, the lethal Gonzalo Higuain.

Despite weight criticism, the Argentine has hit the ground running at his new club and Max Allegri has been put under great dilemma.

Still, with Simone Zaza and Alvaro Morata out of Juventus, it seems that Juventus might end up sticking with Mandzukic, who remains the only out-and-out striker available to deputise for Gonzalo Higuain.

Should Juventus hold on to the experienced Croatian?


Milos Markovic

Formerly a Chief Editor at the largest sports site in Serbia, Milos Markovic is an avid football writer who contributes to a variety of online football magazines - most prominently and His feature articles, editorials, interviews and match analyses have provided informed opinion and views, helping the football aficionados keep up to date on relevant events in world football.



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