New details emerged this week on Mario Mandzukic’s alleged desire to sign for Manchester United this January.
Tuttosport report Mandzukic is willing to move to Manchester in December if an agreement in struck, allowing him time to settle early.
The Croatian has been frozen out completely by Maurizio Sarri this season, not picked for a single game and was omitted from their Champion League squad. No wonder he can’t wait to get away.
Now this could be international week filler from Tuttosport, but reports about Mandzukic to Manchester United have been bubbling away for the last two months.
Taking it at face value, a potential move for Mandzukic is a big talking point.
Mandzukic is 33 and while he is not the optimum age for United signings, he adds something totally different to the team’s attack.
He is a poacher and has a deadly eye for goal, as United found to our cost in 2014 against Bayern, as did England in the World Cup semi-final.
Mandzukic has scored double figures every year since 2010/11 and has 212 career goals at club level. He’s still got more left in him.
When you look at United’s close games this season, narrow defeats to Newcastle, Palace, Bournemouth by a single goal, and the draw with Wolves, it is fair to consider that with Mandzukic in the team, he could have come off the bench and changed at least one of those in our favour.
He can score the scrappy goals that Solskjaer used to, and is hoping Rashford and Martial can learn to.
What’s the problem?
The links with Mandzukic first emerged in the final few days of the summer transfer window. At that point he looked like the only striker we could sign, and for the reasons above, we were talking ourselves into a move.
The big problem with signing Mandzukic in January is the opportunity cost of not signing a more long term option.
Erling Haaland, Timo Werner or Moussa Dembele could all be bought, and would have time to settle ahead of next season if they arrive in January.
If we sign Mandzukic then we are walking away from signing another striker in January.
The best solution…
It is possible United choose to prioritise another position in January, either ring wing or attacking midfield.
Moving for a James Maddison, Hakim Ziyech or Bruno Fernandes even would improve the starting XI, and kick the big money striker search over to the summer.
This would make Mandzukic the ideal option as a cheap deal in addition to that, perhaps on loan.
A loan deal would be smart, Juventus have made clear they have no need for him, and he seems desperate to make the move.
In turn it would not block off a big spend on Haaland next summer, when he might be more available.
Mandzukic should not be the first choice striker option in January, but if we are going to focus on another position instead, then bringing him in too works, so long as a younger forward is added in the summer.
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