Quick links


Why Arsenal's striker search should extend beyond Mandzukic

Mario Mandzukic Bayern

The Croatian has been in impressive form for Bayern Munich during their procession to the Bundesliga title but is viewed as a Giroud 2.0 by Gunners fans.

The rumour mill is in overdrive as we approach the summer transfer window and one link which refuses to go away is Arsenal's touted move for Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic, whose future appears destined to lie elsewhere, with the Bavarian outfit set to sign Robert Lewandowski in the coming months.

Mandzukic and Lewandowski somewhat ironically sit atop the Bundesliga goalscoring charts with 18 apiece this season but the Croat's goalscoring exploits will count for little when the Borussia Dortmund striker arrives at the Allianz Arena, with the the Polish frontman expected to assume the role of star striker.

It has led to discussions regarding Mandzukic's future and there appears to be a long list of suitors credited with an interest in his services, not least Arsenal, whose need for a proven finisher at the elite level this summer is perhaps greater than most on the continent. 

In it's most simple terms, Olivier Giroud has floundered under the pressure place upon his shoulders this season, failing to improve on a first season which showed promise but also inconsistency.

The Gunners faithful's patience appears to have worn thin with the Frenchman while manager Arsene Wenger's has too, with Giroud's well-documented off-field antics providing the Arsenal chief with the perfect reasoning behind excluding him from the first team at times in the past few months.

The fact the relatively untested Yaya Sanogo has been preferred in some of the club's most high-profile matches recently, with his first start for the club coming against Bayern in a 2-0 defeat. 

It illustrates the dearth of striking talent available to Wenger that he has come to rely on Sanogo as a deputy to Giroud this season when he had two transfer windows available to him in which to fix what appeared to most a rather obvious problem in the Gunners ranks.

It seems like being a case of third time lucky for Arsenal as Wenger looks to make up for his previous transfer market errors, but the net should be cast much wider than Mandzukic if the Frenchman is to rediscover his past glories.

Arsenal teams of yesteryear were built on solid foundations with the searing pace of Thierry Henry supplementing that in attack. Ever since the Frenchman's departure in 2007, the Gunners have lacked speed in the transition and their shortage in that respect is embodied best by Giroud.

The former Montpellier striker's at times ponderous style should not detract from his excellent hold-up play and precise first touch but it illustrates one of the chief reasons behind Wenger's side's inability to keep up with the chasing pack at the Premier League summit.

Mandzukic, meanwhile, would certainly offer an upgrade on Giroud, that much is for sure. The Croat possesses many of the same qualities but would also provide more intelligent running and a composure in the penalty area which has eluded his potential predecessor on so many occasions this season.

Ultimately, however, Arsenal require something slightly different to Giroud if they are to challenge next season. While Mandzukic offers a higher-quality alternative, his style as a spearhead-type has proven to the club's detriment at times in their 4-2-3-1 setup.

It may well be that Wenger elects to bring in Mandzukic alongside a player who can operate on the last line of defence, Loïc Remy perhaps, to offer more versatility and variation to an often predictable frontline.

Arsenal fans have become all too accustomed to watching Giroud toil in front of goal and, in Mandzukic, they would at least be offered a rise in quality if nothing else.

What will gripe those supporters, however, is if pace is not added to a stagnated attacking unit which seems a far cry from the days of Henry et al.

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch