Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is on the hunt for a new striker. With Samuel Eto’o gone, Demba Ba and Fernando Torres are his only two recognised forwards. Romelu Lukaku is scheduled to return to Stamford Bridge for next season, but it looks unlikely that he will get to feature under the Portuguese.
Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa is said to be Mourinho’s number one target. The Spain international was arguably the best striker in Europe in the 2013-14 season, and despite his recent injury problems, the 25-year-old could join the Premier League giants after the World Cup.
However, Chelsea could sign another centre-forward. After all, Ba does not appear to have any future at the Blues and Torres could finally be shipped off after three-and-a-half years of mediocrity. Even if the Spaniard remains, Mourinho would still like an in-form forward in his squad.
Enter Mario Mandzukic. The 28-year-old Croatia international has been a huge success at Bayern Munich in the past two seasons, scoring 33 goals in 54 Bundesliga matches and proving crucial in the German giants winning an historic treble in 2012-13. The former Wolfsburg striker has done nothing wrong in Munich, but with the arrival of Robert Lewandowski, Bayern are willing to let him leave.
There have been suggestions that Mandzukic could even be Mourinho’s main centre-forward next season if Chelsea fail to land Costa. And based on the following comments by his Bayern teammate Dante, it is not hard to see why.
‘I think Croatia will miss Mandzukic a lot’, Goal.com quotes the centre-back as saying. ‘It's hard to replace a player like him, he's a fighter. But we have to be careful, even if he’s not playing’.
Dante was speaking about the striker’s absence for Croatia’s opening game at the World Cup against Brazil due to suspension. What will be interesting to note is the fact that the central defender describes Mandzukic as a “fighter”. And Mourinho wants fighters in his team, players who will do everything to win.
During his time as Real Madrid manager, Mourinho once slammed Karim Benzema for failing to step up in the absence of Gonzalo Higuain, claiming: 'If you can't go hunting with your dog, then you have to take your cat'. With Mandzukic, Mourinho would have no such complaint.
Mandzukic is a proven goalscorer and having played for Bayern successfully for two years, he would know all about the pressure that comes with the privilege of playing for a big club. Whether he can play alongside Costa remains to be seen, but signing the Croatian will not be a bad move for Chelsea.