Arsenal Transfer News: Mario Mandzukic Targeted After Robert Lewandowski Failure

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistJanuary 6, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 25:  Mario Mandzukic of Bayern Muenchen celebrates as he scores their first goal during the UEFA Champions League final match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern Muenchen at Wembley Stadium on May 25, 2013 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Robert Lewandowski's signature would be very welcome at Emirates Stadium right now, so it will pain Arsenal fans to learn details of Arsene Wenger's failed attempts to sign the Borussia Dortmund striker over the past 18 months.

However, the Gunners chief will now attempt to bring in the man Lewandowski might eventually replace once his Bayern Munich move comes to fruition, with an approach for Mario Mandzukic hinted at by Wenger.

BBC Sport reported at the weekend that Lewandowski's long-envisioned transfer to the Allianz Arena will go through on July 1, the Polish international having signed a pre-contract agreement this month.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 24:  Robert Lewandowski of Borussia Dortmund during a Borussia Dortmund training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League final match against FC Bayern Muenchen at Wembley Stadium on May 24, 2013 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

And Wenger delved into his own experiences of trying to bring the Black and Yellows striker to North London, quoted by Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail saying:

Yes we looked into Lewandowski but honestly he signed for Bayern one and a half years ago, everyone knows that. 

They can only make it official now because he is in the last six months of his contract.

We are like everyone, we look out there and see what is happening. If an opportunity turns up, you know as well that all the big players are at big clubs at the moment and they go for important targets. 

Unless you have a club in a desperate financial situation it will be difficult. [...]

Lewandowski is at Dortmund until the end of the season and they will not sell Mandzukic now - maybe at the end of the season.

Mandzukic has been a monumental figure for die Roten over the past 18 months, helping guide Jupp Heynckes' side to a domestic and European treble last season, scoring 22 goals in 40 appearances across all competitions, per's Cristian Nyari acknowledges that Arsenal are right to pursue the Croatian international, but adds that he believes the striker will remain with Bayern:

The former Wolfsburg star has, of course, benefited massively from arguably the greatest ammunition the world has to offer at Bayern, but his quality has risen to the fore since starring at Euro 2012.

Rummenigge shakes Lewandowski's hand at last season's Champions League final.
Rummenigge shakes Lewandowski's hand at last season's Champions League final.Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Pep Guardiola's star striker is still very much a wanted man in Bavaria, however, and the club's CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge recently proclaimed that Mandzukic is not for sale, irrespective of Lewandowski's impending arrival, per Sky Sports:

We're very happy with Mario. He made a major contribution to us winning so many titles last year. I just have to think back to the goal in London. He's a fantastic player who has come on leaps and bounds with Bayern.

His contract runs until 2016 and I told his advisor in Marrakech that we would be willing to talk about an extension. We have absolutely no intention of selling Mario.

Arsenal are currently having to cope with the absences of their two first-choice strikers, with Olivier Giroud and Nicklas Bendtner going through injury woes of late.

Ex-Norwegian international Jan Aage Fjortoft admits the club's need for another attacking option is desperate:

However, a patched-up team including upcoming Gunners starlet Serge Gnabry proved its mettle against Tottenham over the weekend, triumphing 2-0 in their FA Cup third-round clash.

That being said, attacking reinforcements are bound to be considered in the summer, if not sooner.

Wenger's chances of signing Mandzukic may appear improved now that another world-class forward is soon to join the cast under Guardiola's command, but Bayern's ability to retain the services of their very best assets is second to none.