Report: West Ham want Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic - why he could be the missing piece in Slaven Bilic's jigsaw

Croatia's Mario Mandzukic applauds fans after the game

The fee may be high and time is not exactly on his side, but the Croatian looks a perfect fit for The Hammers.

Croatia's Mario Mandzukic applauds fans after the game

West Ham are keen to solve their goalscoring conundrum with the £18 million signing of Juventus forward Mario Mandzukic, The Sun reports.

The Hammers tried and failed to bring in an array of established centre-forwards, such as Carlos Bacca, Michy Batshuayi and Alexandre Lacazette, in the summer, meaning manager Slaven Bilic has been left short of quality up front, especially due to long-term injuries to Andy Carroll, Andre Ayew and Diafra Sakho.

Furthermore, new arrivals Simone Zaza, Jonathan Calleri and Ashley Fletcher have yet to score a Premier League goal between them this season, so it would be no surprise if West Ham were to delve back into the market in January.

And The Sun have reported that the capital club, who have scored just 13 times in 12 league fixtures, are interested on importing a proven goalscorer with pedigree at the top level of the European game.

A bid of nearly £20 million may seem excessive for a player in his 30s, but Mandzukic’s distinguished CV, adorned with Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Juventus, is testament alone to his abilities while his relationship with Bilic, who worked with him in the Croatia national team, could ease his adaptation to another of Europe’s top leagues.

(From L-R) Bayern Munich's Rafinha, Dante, Xherdan Shaqiri, Franck Ribery, Manuel Neuer and Mario Mandzukic celebrate with the trophy after the game

Mandzukic is primarily a penalty-box poacher, an old-school striker who thrives on headers, tap-ins and the scruffiest of scrambled close-rangers, meaning the ammunition provided by Dimitri Payet, Manuel Lanzini, Michail Antonio and co certainly would not go to waste.

West Ham average 21 crosses per game, so the 6ft 3ins targetman would certainly benefit from the kind of personalised service not afforded to him in Serie A, a major factor that could entice him to the English capital.

Furthermore, the Croatian would fit Bilic’s preferred sole-striker system at the London Stadium, having struggled to strike up a relationship with Gonzalo Higuain in Turin or Antoine Griezmann in Madrid.

Juventus' Mario Mandzukic (L) in action against Inter Milan's Miranda (R)

Therefore, his ability to lead the line on his own, and defend from the front with his feisty, high-pressing approach, would endear him to both fans and manager.

It’s unlikely that Juve would consider letting one of their senior figures depart in January as they aim to translate their domestic dominance onto the continental game, but a bloated offer for a player on the wrong side of 30 could test their resolve.

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