Six destinations for Mandzukic after Simeone bust-up at Atletico
Reports of a bust-up between Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone and star striker summer signing Mario Mandzukic have sparked speculation that his stay at the Vicente Calderon will end after one season.
With Atleti, 20/1 Champions League chances with Coral, trailing El Clasico couple Barcelona and Real Madrid in the race to defend their La Liga title, this falling out could not have come at a worse time.
Where could Mandzukic move? That’s the question our football experts have been pondering, and here are where we think he’d fit in or is needed.
If there’s one Premier League club that appreciates a Croatia international striker, then it’s the Gunners.
Arsene Wenger has worked with both of that country’s top scorers Davor Suker and Brazilian-born Eduardo da Silva during his time at Arsenal, so why not bring current first-choice Blazers frontman Mandzukic to the Emirates?
Getting some consistency out of current Arsenal attackers Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck is proving difficult. Mandzukic, meanwhile, has netted 20 goals plus this term and in the previous two seasons.
Erik Thohir’s billions could be used to lure Mandzukic to the San Siro, but any switch to this Serie A side looks like being one without European football for next term.
On the other hand, international teammates Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic being on the Nerazzurri’s books may appeal regardless. Inter are 16/1 shots for the Europa League.
Louis van Gaal has some tough calls to make up front this summer. On-loan Colombia hitman Radamel Falcao is no longer the player he once was, reduced to turning out for United’s Under-21 side and his £40m-plus fee to become a permanent acquisition cannot be justified.
Robin van Persie, meanwhile, has once again missed swathes of the season injured, and that has left the Red Devils rather reliant on skipper Wayne Rooney, already a talismanic figure for club and country.
Mandzukic offers a more physical presence up front to either of these current United options, and Van Gaal has been using the aerial abilities of Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini in similar fashion.
Spurs striker and rising star of English football Harry Kane needs reinforcements, and someone to ease the goal burden on his young shoulders at White Hart Lane.
Mandzukic would follow in the footsteps of compatriots Vedran Corluka and Luka Modric in turning out for 11/2 top four chances Tottenham, who need to offload forward flops Emmanuel Adebayor and Roberto Soldado before signing a replacement.
Like Inter, Los Che have a big money backer from the Far East in Peter Lim. Valencia are right behind Atletico in the race for Champions League football, and the Bats could certainly afford to splash big on another attacker.
Alvaro Negredo, still owned by Manchester City, has struggled to impress at the Mestalla, and young Spanish prospect Paco Alcacer is still just 21. Mandzukic must consider this option, as he could be as big at Valencia as David Villa.
Die Wolfe are serious about challenging Bayern Munich’s domestic dominance of the Bundesliga, hence recent big money buys Kevin De Bruyne and Andre Schurrle.
Bringing Mandzukic back could be a masterstroke, and he would want to prove Pep Guardiola wrong for letting him leave the Allianz last summer. Wolfsburg are 13/2 joint-favourites to win the Europa League.