Once Chelsea have finally tied up the Diego Costa transfer (and yes, we’re STILL waiting for that deal to be concluded), it’s thought the club will want to add another striker to the squad. Names that have been mentioned include Loic Remy and Wilfried Bony, but a more ambitious target would be Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandzukic.
There’s no question that Mandzukic is available. The arrival of Robert Lewandowski at the Allianz Arena is likely to make the Croatian striker surplus to Munich’s requirements, and he has already pushed for a move due to his perception that he wasn’t valued by the Bundesliga champions.
He’s been touted as a target for Arsenal, but at a likely £30m-plus is probably out of their price range. Whether Chelsea are prepared to pay that much for a back-up striker may depend on how much the club can raise when it offloads Torres and Ba.
Mandzukic has his critics, with question marks over his skill on the ball and technical ability. The Bayern coach Pep Guardiola certainly doesn’t appear to be fan, having dropped him towards the end of last season. But he is very much a Mourinho-type player, with a high work-rate and a willingness to track back and defend from the front.
What’s more, his goalscoring rate since joining Bayern has been very impressive. He’s netted twenty-plus goals in both seasons at the club, at the rate of more than a goal every two games, and finished 2013/14 as the club’s top scorer.
He may not be the world’s fastest, most elegant or most technically gifted striker. But he is tall, strong and powerful, he has the ability to explode past defenders into the penalty area, and possesses the knack of being in the right place at the right time to score. He has made the best of his attributes to oust both Munich’s Marios, Gomez and Gotze, out of the central striker’s role – and in Gomez’s case, out of the club completely.
He appears to have no qualms about coming to a club apparently as a second fiddle and fighting for his place, which would be useful. The main quibble for Chelsea would be over the price. Of course, that’s an obstacle which may even increase if Mandzukic has a decent World Cup.
The likelihood of this deal appeared to have receded with the sale of David Luiz to Paris St Germain. The centre-back – a target for Bayern Munich – had been touted as the key to a possible swap deal for Mandzukic; but Chelsea evidently felt that the offer from PSG was more lucrative.
However, the Croatian’s name is still in the frame according to the latest reports. It’s unlikely that we’ll see what the truth is until the Diego Costa transfer saga is done and dusted. But with that expected to be tied up in time for the start of the World Cup, it may well be that more definite signs of a move for Mandzukic could be seen in the coming days.