In a strange turn of events at the Allianz Arena, Mario Mandzukic's position in Bavaria may have become far less tenable than was supposed at first, and Arsenal would be wise to swoop if there's the slightest opening available.
According to Metro's Jamie Sanderson, the Croatian striker has been told he can leave Bayern Munich after showing what some at the club see as a poor attitude.
The report quotes honorary club president Franz Beckenbauer as saying:
"Mandzukic could pack his bags. I don’t think Mandzukic suits Pep Guardiola’s style,"
"Also—even without him, Guardiola could still count on Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze in attack."
Agence France-Presse reporter Ryland James quotes Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer as saying that Mandzukic's training ethic has forced Guardiola's hand:
Sammer explains why Mandzukic was left out of #FCBayern squad (Guardiola declined to comment) "Mario hasn't trained like we know he can"— Bundesliga_reporter (@rylandjames) January 24, 2014
The comments come as extremely intriguing giving that Beckenbauer appears to hint at coping without Mandzukic right now, as opposed to exclusively selling their star in the summer, at which point Robert Lewandowski would be available for selection.
For much of this transfer window, Arsene Wenger's side have been link to a wealth of attacking targets in order to give Olivier Giroud some support in attack, or in this case some competition for a starting place.
What should Arsenal be willing to pay for Mandzukic?
Mandzukic could prove to be a very unexpected coup for the north Londoners, the forward having led Bayern's line with aplomb for the past two seasons, helping fire them to a European and domestic treble last term.
Sanderson's report does go on to state, however, that Arsenal would only be interested in a loan deal if they were to sign the forward, which could pose an issue given that Bayern are unlikely to settle for anything less than a permanent departure.
Wenger has leaned on Giroud's presence up front greatly this season, and the season-ending injury picked up by Theo Walcott has only cancelled out one of Wenger's alternatives in the central striking position.
With Nicklas Bendtner returning from injury and Yaya Sanogo not far behind, Wenger will have other choices up front, but the pair pale in comparison to the figure that Euro 2012 hero Mandzukic would provide.
In 12 league starts this term, the 27-year-old has 10 goals to his name, per Transfermarkt, capitalising greatly on the ammunition supplied to him by one of the best midfield corps in club football.
But there's a very respectable chain of supply at the Emirates Stadium, too, and Mandzukic could hope to once again be poaching about from close quarters in what has the potential to be a very easy transition.
The New York Times' Cristian Nyari says that Mandzukic is one key to making Arsenal a side capable of winning any title:
Would be huge if Arsenal signed Draxler. Add Mandzukic to the mix and you've got a team that can win just about any title.— Cristian Nyari (@Cnyari) January 24, 2014
In terms of style, the Gunners would also allow the striker to go about his ways up top just as he does in Bavaria at present. Giroud isn't all that often forced to drop deep with his back to goal or made to work incredibly hard in order to get the ball at his feet, instead relying upon a strong midfield to do that creative build-up around him.
Mandzukic may not have seemed like the most likely of targets from the European champions a fortnight ago, but a fortunate turn of events could have opened the door, even a creak, in what would be a very valuable addition for an Arsenal team in need of it.