Comparing the Roles of van Persie, Mandzukic, Gomez, Llorente and Jovetic
We continue our miniseries in comparing some of the world's top strikers, looking specifically at their roles and strengths.
The first part of the series—which featured Edinson Cavani and Radamel Falcao et al.—can be viewed here, while this week we check in on Bayern Munich's wondrous duo, Juventus' inbound target man and more.
Enjoy the slideshow.
Robin van Persie
Robin van Persie has mastered what he has called the "nine-and-a-half" role over the past two seasons, putting in impressive campaigns for both Arsenal and Manchester United.
Far from your prototypical poacher, the Dutchman's ability on the ball sees him drop deep into the buildup play and help orchestrate from something close to a No. 10 position, while his experience on the flanks as a younger man helps his positional sense when filtering wide.
His wand of a left foot makes him a threat from anywhere on the pitch—scoring free kicks, making scything passes or shooting from distance. He's alive in the box and can also run the channels.
In short, there really isn't a lot he can't do.
Mario Mandzukic is a bit of a late bloomer; only recently has he shot to prominence, and within one year he has established himself among the very, very best.
It started with him showing his versatility for Croatia during Euro 2012, starring as a deep-lying forward, aerial threat and dogged tracker of Andrea Pirlo.
He took advantage of Mario Gomez's injury to start the season on fire, and has won the Bayern crowd's hearts with good teamwork and dedication to the cause.
He presses off the ball to win possession high up the pitch, drops into possession, and drifts wide in intelligent fashion to help his team create overloads on the flanks.
A lot of what Bayern do revolves around finding mismatches and opening pockets of space; Mandzu is now integral to this.
Bayern's other striking option is an entirely different entity, as Mario Gomez remains almost the polar opposite to namesake Mandzukic on the field.
He's a bit more old-school, relying on his predatory instincts in the penalty area to thrive, and there's no doubting his phenomenal goalscoring record.
He is a capable passer and can play a role in the buildup, but in an ideal world, the German simply knocks it wide and waits for the return ball so he can tuck it away.
That's where he can rival the world's best—when it comes to 18-yard finishing—and his ability to find space, slip his marker and gain a yard in that congested area is nothing short of remarkable.
Juventus' incoming signing will be a little rusty due to a lack of playing time, but don't forget how dominant Fernando Llorente was last season.
He used to be known as a pure battering ram of a centre-forward—Spain's alternate, Andy Carroll-esque Plan B—but Marcelo Bielsa revolutionised his game and made him a complete forward.
Not only can he use his size and power in the area, he learnt to use his chest as proficiently as Marouane Fellaini, dropping the ball off to his midfield playmakers rather than just flicking it on.
His short passing game improved in spades, his long shooting improved marginally and his aerial prowess remained as deadly. Giuseppe Marotta and Antonio Conte owe Bielsa a thank-you card.
Vincenzo Montella's fluid system at Fiorentina has allowed Stevan Jovetic to develop into a borderline world-class forward.
Whether he's the prima punta playing in tandem with the roaming Adem Ljajic or the deep-lying creator tucked in behind Luca Toni, he scores goals, lays on key passes and confuses opponents.
He started deeper, hence his comfort on the ball and ability to fashion chances, but his finishing ability—both in and outside the box—has led further up the field in a gradual fashion.
Now, he's an electric young forward with frightening potential and an equally frightening price tag.
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