Striker search – is Mandžukić the right choice?

AtléticoFans takes a look at the two main candidates to replace Diego Costa

Mandzukic - or someone else? (pic: getty)

Mandzukic - or someone else? (pic: getty)

Fernando Torres, Sergio Agüero, Diego Forlán, Radamel Falcao and Diego Costa. They have all held the expectation of rojiblanco fans in recent years, and since the latter’s departure last week to Chelsea, the question on everyone’s lips is – who will lead the line at the Vicente Calderón next season?

It now looks set to be Mandžukić, but is he right fit, or is there a better option available?

Costa’s sale has been inevitable since the end of last season, and the club have been working to find a replacement to try and help them defend their league title in 2014/15.

In the early weeks of the transfer window, the prime candidate looked to be Belgian frontman Romelu Lukaku on a part-exchange loan deal from Chelsea, although interest has cooled in the last couple of months according to reports in the Madrid press.

Now, the options have been narrowed down almost exclusively to two in particular; Manchester City’s Spanish battering ram Álvaro Negredo, and the industrious Mario Mandžukić of Bayern Munich.

Despite having history with Real Madrid and Sevilla, Negredo has always been the option Atleti have liked.

He was looked at first back in 2011 in a possible deal that would have seen Kun Agüero do the unthinkable and move to the Bernabéu, and again last summer after Falcao was sold, but neither materialised.

Simeone is said to be keen on a third attempt to sign him however, and has asked the club to make him the priority.

The Beast of Vallecas enjoyed an impressive debut campaign in the Premier League as City marched to win the title, but was unable to win a place in Spain’s World Cup squad after a drop in form after Christmas.

He may be the preferred choice, but rumours suggest that it’s Mandžukić who is the favourite.

The Croatian forwards signing seems easier, given that he has stated his desire to move on from Bayern, following the arrival of Robert Lewandowski. He is also available for cheaper – English clubs like to inflate the price when selling players – as would be the case with Negredo.

Reports in the German press are claiming that a €22 million deal for the striker is done. A verbal agreement is in place, according to Bayern.

Having just played in the World Cup, the former Wolfsburg forward is something of a late bloomer having only moved to the Allianz Arena aged 26, but in the last two years has established himself as an elite striker with over 50 goals for club and country.

This hasn’t been enough to stop Pep Guardiola upgrading his front-line though, and with Lewandowski coming in as a likely starter, Mandžukić admitted to press at the end of the season that he would be looking to move somewhere more suitable.

“I’ve had a fantastic time at Bayern. It’s a great club and I never thought I’d want to leave, and especially not at this point in time,” he said. “But, let’s be honest, I cannot play to my strengths under Guardiola’s style – no matter how hard I try.”

“It’s time for a fresh challenge.”

He’s not the only one who is unsettled though, reports also say that Negredo is not on best terms with City boss Manuel Pellegrini and has seen his relationship with the Chilean deteriorate over time.

A shoulder injury in January saw him lose his place in the line-up and since then he has failed to find the net, having scored 23 times in all competitions prior to then.

His loss of form is perhaps a cause for concern, but he’s the type of player who it is easy to see excel under Simeone.

The €30m asking price is steep for someone who is nearly 29, but given that he is represented by the infamous Doyen Group, you would think he would be attainable if we made a real push for his signature.

Negredo represents the like-for-like option to replace Diego Costa, whereas Mandžukić, tall, hard-working and lethal in and around goal, bears more resemblance to Radamel Falcao, at least in how you would expect us to play with him up top.

Reliable MARCA journalist Javier Amaro backed up this theory by suggesting this season’s Atleti will see a slight change in style similar to the side of 2012/13, and hinted on Twitter that our new striker will be ‘Croatian, slow but a great finisher’. Make of that what you will.

Either way, the new incumbent of our number 9 shirt – who we have reason to believe will not be the only striker arriving before September – should be confirmed sooner rather than later, be it Mandžukić, Negredo or somebody else entirely.

Who would be your choice to replace Diego Costa in attack? Would you welcome Negredo to the club?

  • Pashenko

    Alexis Sanchez!

  • Randy Ved Jawahir

    TBH, Any one of them, Manzukic asking price is a bargain for an exceptionally talented striker. And we all know what negredo could do. So either one we get would be a good fit to this club IMO. I may not like negredo, but i cant deny he’s a good player

  • leika

    I’d prefer Mario, but it would be easier for Negredo to fit in since he already knows the language and some of the players. I always thought that Jackson Martinez was the next in our supreme striker list, but I guess he would cost us at least 30mil and he’s another Mendes guy? Also I really hope Correa gets a good start and won’t be loaned.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Correa just had a heart surgery couple of weeks ago, and he will need about 2 months to recover, meaning that he will miss all the preseason

    so -if he passed the medical examinations (again)- he probably will be loaned to one of la Liga clubs this season

  • Abdullah Karam

    In my opinion he will be the chice IF A BIG IF we change our style to fit him like what we did with diego costa ,, so Cholo is a very cleave man and he will change our style a little bid to help Mario score a lot of goals ,, i mentioned that we must have more speedy guy on the wing or hold the ball to get our backs to cross to much cuz he is lethal in this way ,, and have iturbe or cerci to counter very fast and dribble with speed to bring the defenders to them and give the ball to a striker that not miss alot and he is playing around with ball in front of the goal and that guy is Mario ,, this is my opinion and i think Cholo is better coach than me , way way better hehehe 🙂
    So lets hope he will be lethal to us cuz he is 28 now and we gona pay 20 million or over for him and this is new for atleti ,,
    Aupa Atleti

  • Mrtn

    Mandzukic is a very good player with great mentality.
    He will be another success, and maybe not for 1 season only.
    But we need another attacker who can score more than Villa did.

  • Kris

    —-and Filipe Is gone to Chelsea for €25 million. Thank you Filipe for your services and best of luck for your next career steps. Gracias Filipe.

  • Kris

    So…it’s official! Welcome to Atletico, Mandzu! Hopefully you can give us 40+ Some goals. XD. Don that number nine shirt for Atleti! BienvenidoMario!

  • Chewie

    I’ll be satisfied if he scores 30+ goals with a condition that his partner – whoever he will be – scores another 30 =) Our market activity is driving the football community crazy. Everybody was saying we’re done after the last glorious season, and now we they’re starting to take us seriously. Excited to see Caminero’s next move, the man is a genius.

  • colcho

    25M for La Liga’s best Left back and my personal favorite colchonero 🙁
    Not enough but thank you for everything Filipe!!

  • OLe OLe


  • Kris

    Most definitely. Of course, I would be happy at 30+ goals too from him and sum 25+ goals from the supporting striker but with the service Mandzu can score 40+ goals in a season. Service. Service is what we will need to give Mandzukic because he’s not at all a striker who creates and scores, he scores only when you feed him the balls. You might have noticed from his time at Bayern he waits in the area for somebody to service him the ball and when the ball comes to him, he’s sure to score. A very well poacher. Great header of the ball. Good holdup play. Strong shot. Not as pacy as Diego Costa but I think, he’s actually an improvement as the “target” striker. We need another winger and a providing striker, kind of like the Costa of 12/13 season to provide Mandzu the assists.

    Caminero and Simeone complement each other very well. Simeone asks, Caminero gets. Hopefully, he’s able to bring in Jan Oblak and another tremendous winger (Gaitan, maybe?).

  • It seems we sold Adrián to Oporto for $11 millions euros. If it’s true, it was a very good deal and a smart money recovery after what we spent on Mandzukic. And we will definitely have a brand new attack line this season, which is very promising, right? Good to see we are not doing any craziness and still moving on. 🙂

  • I bet Chelsea will try to sign Mandzukic by the end of the season giving Costa to reduce its price 😀

  • Dircil

    haha, we never bought betraitor and we will never do that!!!

  • Chewie

    Totally agree. When watching videos of his performance I noticed that about 80% of his goals came from close range assists that one cannot miss. As Caminero said in a recent interview, Mario is a perfect match for Simeone’s team: he’s good in pressing so we can start defending very high, he knows how to position himself, he’s tall with a good header and has a strong shot. Also I believe that he works with the ball better then DC so it seems like we have no reasons for worries.

  • Chewie

    I read it’s 15 million for Adrian. And Filipe is most likely to join Costa in Chelsea for 24 million. Manquillo out to Arsenal for a year, Ansaldi from Zenit probably in for a year. We might get Ochoa for free. And Caminero doesn’t give up trying to seize plenty of other awesome players.

  • Davido

    Hi, frequent visitor, never commented. I think atleticofans should be estatic with this purchase. A proven striker at an absolute top club, with tons of,goals in the past couple seasons, making the switch to a system that fits him. Works hard on defence, which is CRUCIAL to be a fit at atleti, and all for 22 million. A great deal! At 28, probably just about at his peak, normally you see atletico selling players when they get to their peak, so this is a nice change of the mold. Additionally i dont think you have to worry about a replacement for a while, assuming he sticks around for at least two years, i dont see a club tempting him away once he hits 30, atletico will be too good a match and he will probably be winning about as much there as he could anywhere, assuming simeone sticks around for his full contract too. Could a be a mainstay for many seasons to come. I see ho. Being a fan favourite for a while, maybe even forlan-esque. And yes you need another striker to back him up, due to the economic realties, lukaku on loan isnt a terrible option. Is the door closed on torres? I feel like that would be sensational return for el nino.

  • Kris

    I don’t like the Manquillo to Arsenal transfer loan as he will most likely be a second choice to Debuchy there as well. I am happier with him staying at Atleti as he will learn and we will have a really great substitute (or hell even a starter if he outshines Juanfran) at the right back position.

  • Lee Gary

    His play style fits very well

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    great comment .. very good analysis for Mandzukic deal
    I wish we see more from you here

  • Colcho

    True.. true..
    Where are you from, Davido?

  • Dircil

    Angel Correa is the 2nd striker, I believe.

  • Davido

    Im from vermont

  • Kris

    Adrian is officially a Porto player now. Porto paid 11 million euros for his services. Porto have slapped a 60 million euros buyout clause in to his contract! Well,, all I can say is good luck Adrian and thank you very much for trying. Suerte Adrian.

  • Kris

    Players are leaving but few are coming in. Hopefully, there are more additions to the squad because we are goingg to need it. Even if we have a good starting XI, we are going to need just as good players for the bench. I am awaiting some good news because we are going to need four to five reinforcements to the starting lineup and the bench. I would like to be able to trust a good sporting director. Caminero…. please!!

  • Khairul Anshary Md

    goodbye Adrian! You will be missed!

  • Kris

    To make our own, a talented 21 year old goalkeeper for six seasons at 16 million euros is not at all bad, is it? Welcome to Atletico, Jan Oblak.
    Here’s what Jan Oblak had to say about joining Atletico:

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    but once again, and according to AS, we needed a little help from Doyen group, so I’m not sure if we can call him “our own”
    but despite that, now we do have a young talented GK, who probably will stay much longer than Courtois, and if he left one day, he won’t leave for free like Courtois, but we will cash a big amount of money

    many people were wondering why we didn’t go for Navas who is much cheaper but not less talented, well, according to Mundo Deportivo, Mono Burgos, our assistant coach and our former GK specifically asked for Oblak .. and you can’t argue with Mono 😉

    our next target is Gaitan, and if we signed him I can say we have a stronger squad than last season .. after all the agony we lived in the last 2 months !

  • starvs

    Good to know regarding Mono’s input, can’t front on that. My only objection to Oblak was the presumed 3rd party investment, but conflicting reports on if atleti actually will own 100% or some Doyen/Mendes. Quite frankly cannot see Mendes not being involved in this….

  • Dircil

    this kid is a super talent!!!