Mario Mandzukic may have scored 20 goals for Atletico Madrid this season following his move to the Spanish capital last summer, but whispers out of Spain have boss Diego Simeone unhappy with the striker and looking to move him on in the summer. They also have Arsenal and Liverpool lining up to take the £26M-rated scoring ace off Atleti’s hands.
It seems an unlikely rumour, all things considered, but then with the Real bias common in the press of Madrid, an unlikely rumour that seeks to undermine a recently successful Atleti side perhaps shouldn’t be surprising. And on the off chance there’s any truth to it, Mandzukic would certainly be an exciting target for Liverpool fans and the sort of established striker the club desperately need given Daniel Sturridge’s injury issues.
With Sturridge having missed 28 games already this season due to multiple injuries, the sad truth is that Liverpool can no longer count on the England international to be their number one striker. He may have the talent to fill that role when fit, but his frequent—and often lengthy—injuries mean that counting on him to play even half the games next season would be a massive gamble.
Behind him on the depth chart, Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert, and Fabio Borini aren’t enough. None has done a great deal with the chances they have been given, and manager Brendan Rodgers does not appear to rate any of them as worthy replacements for Sturridge, instead increasingly relying on Raheem Sterling to fill in as best he can at the top of Liverpool’s attack.
Divock Origi will arrive next season, but given the wasteland of injured and underwhelming strikers he will be joining, that simply isn’t enough if Liverpool are to have any hope of finishing in the top four. Mandzukic may not be an actual target—and reports of his availability in the Spanish press seem more than a touch exaggerated—but he’s the type of striker Liverpool desperately need to avoid wasting another year.