AC Milan are still looking to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic, after the Swedish striker's blockbuster transfer to Paris Saint-Germain. They've been linked with a host of players, including Edin Dzeko, Dimitar Berbatov, Nicklas Bendtner, Alessandro Matri, and Leandro Damiao.
Edin Dzeko said that he wished to stay with his club Manchester City and earlier this summer, boss Roberto Mancini stated he was keen to keep the Bosnian at the Eastlands. Berbatov is said to be available for around 5 million pounds but Milan haven't expressed much concrete interest in the player, despite Berbatov's agent trying to drum up some. Nicklas Bendtner is just isn't as good as his thinks he is. Matri was a former Milan player and never really made the grade before having a very good first half of the 2011-2012 campaign with Juventus. Damiao is the most intriguing of the bunch, but any transfer would be made after the Olympics when his price tag could likely skyrocket out of the realm of what Milan would be able to afford.
Oscar Cardozo has become the most recent name linked with the Rossoneri in their pursuit to replace Ibrahimovic and here are some things you should know about the man who could be leading the forward line for the Rossoneri in the 2012-2013 season.
Cardozo joined Portuguese side Benfica in 2007 from Argentine side Newell's Old Boys. Playing for Newell's Cardozo scored 21 times in 33 appearances. Before playing in Argentina, Cardozo was a member of Paraguayan sides 3 Febrero and Nacional Asuncion, where he played 34 times and scored 20 goals for each club.
Now Argentinian and Paraguayan domestic leagues are not world powers, however the Portuguese Primeira Liga certainly is a step up. Since 2007, Cardozo has scored 87 goals in 133 appearances for Benfica in league play. In all competitions, Cardozo has scored 128 times in 214 appearances since joining the Portuguese club.
That gives him a strike rate of 0.598 in all competitions and an amazing 0.654 goals per game in league play. Alexandre Pato, Antonio Cassano, Robinho, and Stephan El Shaaraway, who are Milan's four striking options going into next season, possess, in their time with Milan, 0.430,0.2, 0.294, 0.174 respective goals per game.
Needless to say, Milan could use Cardozo up front.
One thing that all Milan's aforementioned striking options have in common, is that they are slight of build. Ibrahimovic is world-class in his ability to hold the ball and bring other players into the attack, fending off defenders with his strength and skill.
Pato, Cassano, Robinho, and El Shaarawy are undoubtedly skilled but lack the imposing physical presence that Ibrahimovic took with him to the Parc des Princes. Cardozo can fill the void the Kung Fu Master has left, as his mammoth 6'4" frame allows him to fight off defenders and keep the ball.
Each of Milan's transfer targets have the ability to hold the ball as Allegri has identified that as a needed attribute for any new arrival, and Cardozo fits this mold quite well.
Playing for a renowned side like Benfica has afforded Cardozo to experience Champion's League football. Benfica competed in the Champion's League over the past two seasons where they faced notable opponents Schalke, Lyon, Chelsea and Manchester United. Benfica shocked everyone by finishing top of Group C after drawing with Manchester United twice. Should Benfica and the Red Devils have played a two-legged knockout match, Benfica would have advanced on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate score.
Cardozo is also a member of the Paraguay national football team. Paraguay drew with Group F favorites Italy in the 2010 World Cup, a result that contributed to Italy crashing out the World Cup in the group stage. They then went on to beat Japan on penalties before losing to eventual champions Spain by only one goal.
Playing in the Serie A would be a step up from playing in Portugal, however, Cardozo would use his ability and experience to good effect.
One may be thinking that given his 6'4" stature, I mean that he's very good in the air and he scores headers on corner kicks. While he does possess some ability in the air, he is a class free kick taker. He supplanted the highly skilled Pablo Aimar to become Benfica's first choice dead ball specialist.
Also, he's left-footed, which is something Milan could use on set pieces. Right now, it would seem as though Riccardo Montolivo or Antonio Cassano would take direct free kicks for the Rossoneri and both are right-footed players. Certain angles undoubtedly favor a right-footed player, but others favor the left. Adding Cardozo and his left foot to the mix would cause confusion for opposing goalkeepers.
While one goal is a limited sample size, check this goal out.
He is valued at around 17.5 million euros so the ever-frugal Galliani could have some trouble matching his valuation. It's quite a lot of money for a 29 year old player who probably only has three or four more quality years ahead of him.
Cardozo would not be my first choice if I were Galliani but Dzeko seems out of reach and Damiao looks to have an a very bright future ahead of him despite it likely needing an astronomical fee to pry him from Brazilian side Internacional. I hesitantly rate Berbatov higher than Cardozo because I've always been a fan of the Bulgarian and feel that his price is more than reasonable. Cardozo is certainly a better striker than Matri and Bendtner and should the previous three be unavailable, the Paraguayan should rise to the top of Milan's target list.