Atletico to bag Benteke if Mandzukic makes Liverpool move?
Mario Mandzukic could be set to spark a transfer tussle this summer, with Atletico Madrid primed to offload their Croatian attacker, according to Spanish press.
The former Bayern Munich marksman hit good numbers this season, notching 20 times in 43 appearances across all competitions, but has suffered a goal drought since February, and generally struggled to regain form.
Atleti tactician Diego Simeone is famed for only favouring players who fit into his philosophy, and is rumoured to be scouring the transfer market for a more dynamic frontman to fill the void left by powerful poacher Diego Costa, who helped the Spanish capital club to a La Liga title before departing for Chelsea.
Liverpool (5/2 with Coral for a Premier League top four finish in 2015/16) are currently favourites to snap up 55-capped Croatia international Mandzukic, who has bagged 15 goals for the Blazers, with the Merseysiders’ striker struggles a recurrent theme this season.
Brendan Rodgers’ Reds boast plenty of pace and versatility with current attacking threats Philippe Coutinho, Jordan Ibe and contract rebel Raheem Sterling, but lack a prolific poacher to gobble up the chances they create.
Previous summer striker signing flops Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli have failed to fill in adequately for injury-prone predator Daniel Sturridge, and the Merseyside men cannot afford to make more recruitment mistakes this time around.
That means plumping for a proven player and, if the Reds can tempt Mandzukic to the Premier League, they will have snared a sharpshooter with a lethal track record.
Should Simeone allow the out-of-form forward, who only arrived at the Vicente Calderon last summer, to exit Atleti for a rumoured fee of around £26m, they Spanish capital club are expected to make a statement of intent by luring a big name to Spain.
Aston Villa attacker Christian Benteke, apparently priced-up at around £30m, is the latest to be linked. The big Belgian is another apparent long-term target for Liverpool, who are said to have been tracking him for some time, but Chelsea have also emerged as recent contenders for the 24-year-old’s signature.
Brilliant Benteke played a crucial role in the Villans’ great escape from the Premier League relegation scrap (and is now 9/4 to lift the FA Cup with the club), contributing a vital 11 goals in his last 11 games, and his ability to stand up and be counted when the chips are down may appeal to savvy Simeone.