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Real Madrid in the Market for Mario Mandzukic

Tuttomercato are reporting a potential summer swoop for the Croatian striker.

Alexander Hassenstein

First of all, it's March. Taking 90+ percent of transfer rumors seriously at this point is like taking Justin Beiber seriously as a musical artiste - it's not really worth your time. However, with Alvaro Morata's minutes dwindling by the month and numerous rumors linking him anywhere from Manchester United to Juventus for prices as high as 30m (!), it's more or less safe to assume that he'll be employing his trade outside of the Spanish capital come next season.

With that being said, Real Madrid will be in the market for a backup to Karim Benzema who is getting set to be the #9 in charge for the next few years. One of the names which has popped up in the rumor mill yesterday is Mario Mandzukic. Again, this is only a rumor months in advance of the transfer season but it's one that has caught my eye since I'm a fan of Mandzukic and I think that pairing him with Benz would give Madrid an incredible 1-2 punch. Juve and Roma are allegedly also interested. I'm not sure if the Juve need for him is pressing as they have Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente leading the charge but both are getting into their 30s and Juve might have pretty deep pockets this summer if suitors come calling for Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba. Roma makes more sense as Francesco Totti isn't getting any younger and Mattia Destro is a work in progress but Mandzukic might blow through their entire budget and I don't know if pulling a move like that will tickle their fancy.

Mario is a big guy. Like, a really big guy. He's 6'1 but just seems even bigger than that and is quite athletic for his size. He's not as prolific of a scorer as some of the strikers who are considered world class but he does have 18 goals in the league and Champions League so far as well as five assists to his name. His passing percentage could use some work as he's not as gifted as Benz in that area but where he's superior to Benz is in his defensive contribution, often dropping back to aid his team on defense. He's also very, very good in the air winning a staggering 2.8 aerial duels per game and (to my knowledge) has already scored seven goals this season with his head. You could make a solid case that he's the best striker in the air in Europe. Basically, teams would have to pick their poison with Benz's positioning and passing or Mario's defense and aerial threat.

Mandzukic has voiced his less-than-thrilled opinion about Robert Lewandowski joining Bayern Munich this summer and he has been linked to Madrid in the past. However, I don't think he'd come cheap, probably at least 25-30m but this was a report to note on a relatively slow day for Madrid since they'll need a second striker this summer. He's someone that I hoped the club would look at in the past and while ultimately I don't think this rumor will come to fruition as he'll probably want to be a guaranteed starter somewhere, the thought of a Benz-Mandzukic strikeforce is a scary one for sure.

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