Saturday, 10 May 2014

Mario Mandzukic's future

With the imminent arrival of Robert Lewandowski around the corner and being dropped by Pep Guardiola for the DFB-Pokal final against Borussia Dortmund this weekend, Mario Mandzukic must be considering his options for next season. The Striker has been a faithful servant to his Bayern masters ever since he joined the Bavarians in 2012. Since then the clinical Croatian has been regarded with a reputation for sniffing out the goals and pouncing on the opportunities, displaying this sixth sense since he was the alpha in his old pack at Wolfsburg. This season Mario has struck 18 times, two less than his counterpart Lewandowski, the Polish international beating the Croatian on the final day of the season. Although being an integral part to Bayern, and having a bright world cup to look forward to in just over month, spearheading his native Croatia, Mario Mandzukic must evaluate his options in the Summer and decide if he best ply his trade elsewhere.
The second top scorer in the last Bundesliga has no short list of clients after his signature, with interest from European giants such as Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Real Madrid, and his current club aren't so keen on giving up the Croatia International. Although the 2013 treble winners may be reluctant to let one of their bright stars shine in another sky, the choices may be limited if the striker pushes for a transfer. With his services coveted by many clubs, if Mandzukic decides to leave he has to choose what is his best destination, which team will bring out the best in him.

Mario Mandzukic plays best as a lone wolf up front, sniffing out his chances, an ultimate opportunist. He would act the perfect target man at any club; 6'2, great strength, lethal finishing and outstanding jumping ability paired with heading. He is simply any creative midfielder's delight to play with. When a cross is whipped into the box and Mario is among the bodies, there is a good chance a goal scoring opportunity will be created. His pin point heading is lethal no matter how good of quality the delivered ball is, with his timing and execution of the jump a level above the rest. The Croatian uses his God-Given ability to snag a goal or setup a teammate, like he did with Bastian Schweinsteiger against Manchester United in the first leg of their Champions League quarter final tie. With amazing heading and prolific finishing, Mandzukic is someone a manager wants the ball passed to in the box. The positioning of the prolific striker is arguably his greatest attribute. Mandzukic plays more like a space shuttle leaving earth, finds space and enters orbit around the defence. Teammates don't even have to raise their heads to play a pass as he is always one-step ahead of his markers, using instinct over speed.

Being the target man he is, Mario Mandzukic always wants his team in possession. If his team don't have the ball, the Bayern Striker won't just wait like a boy staring at his presents under the tree on Christmas Eve, he will instead rip open the wrapping of the presents, going back and trying to get the ball up field. When defenders around him have possession, the Croatian is a bull, charging down defenders applying pressure. 
Although not the paciest and most agile, Mandzukic has quick feet with the ball. He is able to skip past defenders and give himself space and time. When he does this he can make his teammates options or give himself a chance to shoot. 

With all these qualities, the Croatia striker has to have a real look at his future and decide which team will bring out the best in him. Manchester United are in rebuilding mode, and have four strikers already in the form of Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie. They have also not been invited back to the exclusive European feast known as the Champions League, a competition that Mario deserves to play in. 

Real Madrid have been blessed by Karim Benzema's form this season, holding the ball up effectively for teammates such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale to run onto, acting as their target man. 
With Chelsea needing a strong figurehead for their powerful Naval vessel, and Arsenal needing a new cannon for their fortress, these are two ideal destinations. Chelsea need a strong target man with a Mourinho-esque workrate, and with both these qualities marked off, Mario Mandzukic would walk straight into one of Jose Mourinho's training sessions. Having a killer instinct reminiscent of a great white, Mandzukic would feed off the scraps that Eden Hazard and Oscar Dos Santos present him with. Both play makers would gut open the defences with the prolific striker reaping the rewards. With both play makers constantly creating chances for their strikers last season Demba Ba, Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto'o, the pair wouldn't even have to look up to pick out the Croatian.

If though the Bayern Munich front-man joined Arsenal, he would play ahead of the midfield maestro Mesut Ozil, who would be able to play him through on goal blind folded. Being easily capable of scoring a header, Mandzukic is just as able to head crosses down to teammates. Mandzukic would use this strength, acting as a powerful cannon, firing balls in every direction when in hold up play. Being capable to hold the ball and dispatch it for his electrifying wingers in Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain to chase down, the Croatian striker would add a creative spark to his engine. 

With many clubs after the prolific striker, Mario Mandzukic has a tough choice ahead of him; fight for his less than guaranteed striker position at Bayern Munich or dispatch goals elsewhere for clubs that on paper he looks sure to succeed in such as Arsenal or Chelsea.

No comments:

Post a Comment