Juventus completed the signing of experienced Croatian forward Mario Mandzukic last month from Atletico Madrid.
The striker signed a four-year contract with the club, according to most reports – Juve agreed to pay Atletico a fee of worth around €18m.
This looks like a brilliant coup for last year’s Champions League finalists. Mario has scored a bundle of goals for Atletico and particularly Bayern Munich in recent years. In today’s market, the Italian champions have captured him fairly cheaply.
Let’s take a closer look at the 29 year-old attacker.
Mandzukic first made a name for himself in his home country Croatia, playing for Dinamo Zagreb. At the capital he managed to net 42 times in 81 appearances.
With that record he earnt a move to a top league in Europe, Wolfsburg brought him to the Bundesliga for approximately €7m. A mixed couple of years followed at the Volkswagen Arena – the Croat scored 20 goals. At that time, he was aplauded more for his team play and dyanmism over his finishing.
German giants Bayern Munich saw something they liked in the 6ft 1 centre forward, they acquired him for approximetely €13 million. It turned out to be a fantastic move for both club and player – Mario excelled at Bayern.
He helped them lift the Bundesliga title twice and win the Champions League as part of their memorable treble in 2013. Adding the German and UEFA Super Cups, as well as the FIFA World Club Cup. He netted 48 times in just 88 appearances for the Bavarians.
With Pep Guardiola replacing manager Jupp Heynckes at the end of that fantastic season, the Spanish coach did not consider Mario in his plans. Hardly surprising with Pep’s tika taka style unsuited to big target men. Therefore, Mandzukic was allowed to be sold to La Liga holders (at the time) Atletico Madrid for around €22 million.
After a solitary season in Spain with the Rojiblancos, Mario bagging 20 goals and helped the side to Champions League qualification. A good return considering in the last few months he suffered with minor injuries.
Interstingly, it is the third time in four years Mandzukic has joined a side straight after they lost the Champions League final, following his 2012 move to Bayern and last summer’s switch to Atletico.
The forward is now seeking to challenge himself in the Italian league.
What can he offer Juventus?
With Carlos Tevez moving back home to Boca Juniors, many fans and pundits believe that Mandzukic was his replacement. In a way they are correct, but he isn’t a direct replacement.
Like Tevez, Mandzukic will bring non-stop running and an incredible work ethic to Juventus, but the two men are very different players.
The Argentinian is a much more creative player, he will come back to collect the ball and make something happen – dribble through a number of player or play brilliant passes into the running midfielders or his strike partner.
Manager Massimiliano Allegri commented on this last month;
“We don’t have to replace him (Tevez). What we have to do is sign players and study the way they play. Mandzukic is on his way and we have Simone Zaza, Kingsley Coman, Alvaro Morata and Paulo Dybala, young players with a lot of quality.”
The Croatian will rely on those around him to give him opportunities to put the ball in the back of the net – displaying his clinical finishing ability. For Juve fans, they hope someone like recently signed forward Paulo Dybala can do just that.
I beleive Juventus will have to slightly change the way they have been playing, they need to make sure there will be plenty of service provided to Mandzukic, particularly from wide positions, because he his lethal in the air. In the 2012/13 season with Bayern Munich, Mario scored 7 headed goals!
Mandzukic a dynamic talent and his hold-up play is a tremendous foil for surging players. There is no doubt that his awesome work rate will also help compensate for the void left by Carlos Tevez.