A new king has arrived in Turin. Cristiano Ronaldo has completed his stunning move to Juventus, in one of the biggest transfers in history. But what does this mean for some of the players already plying their trade with the Old Lady, and in particular, Mario Mandzukic?
The big striker has had a pretty impressive summer, leading the line for Croatia as the Vatreni reached the World Cup final. However, he could find his playing time limited by Ronaldo’s arrival at the Allianz Stadium.
These days, Ronaldo is virtually an out-and-out striker. Although he’s hardly a slouch, he doesn’t have quite the same explosive pace he possessed in years gone by, and the Portuguese will expect to play up front when he runs out for the Bianconeri.
Of course, Mandzukic prefers to play through the middle. However, despite his large frame and qualities as a target man, the Croat has played on the flanks plenty of times throughout his career.
In the last two seasons, since Juve signed Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli, Mandzukic has found himself shunted out wide more often than not. Performing the task selflessly and admirably, he has registered just 12 goals in 66 Serie A appearances since Higuain arrived.
|Gonzalo Higuain to join Chelsea||9/4||Offer|
|Mario Mandzukic to leave Juventus||7/4||Offer|
Even more so than Ronaldo, it’s the fate of the 30-year-old Argentinian that’s likely to decide Mandzukic’s fate. Juventus will feel they can recoup a decent chunk of the €100m they spent on Ronaldo by selling their No.9, who has scored 55 goals in 105 games for the Old Lady in all competitions.
Even at the age of 33, Ronaldo has been maintaining his stunning scoring rate that saw him plunder 450 goals in 438 games for Real Madrid. Juventus boss Max Allegri will feel that his new No.7 can more than match Higuain’s output, and the man who became one of the world’s most expensive players ever when he cost €90m two summers ago is the more likely to be on the move.
Perhaps after his performances in Russia, Mandzukic will feel that he should be playing in his favoured position week in, week out. He wouldn’t be short of suitors if that’s the case, and the likes of Manchester United have been linked with the 32-year-old in recent weeks.
However, Mandzukic’s unselfish nature means he could prove the perfect partner for Ronaldo in Juve’s attack. Allegri may view the Croatian as a similar player to Karim Benzema, who did a lot of Ronaldo’s dirty work over the years at the Bernabeu.
Considering Higuain will surely move on to make way for Juve’s new arrival, it would be a major surprise if Mandzukic also leaves Turin.