Pep Guardiola's decision to limit Mario Mandzukic's playing time should have Arsenal on alert.
Arsene Wenger desperately needs a world-class striker to strengthen his attacking options as we head toward crunch time in a season that promises success for the Gunners.
A certain talent at the Allianz Arena is waiting to be snapped up, despite Guardiola's heated confirmation to reporters that a rift has not formed between the pair, per FourFourTwo:
This is the third question about Mandzu. That's enough. You know my opinion. There is no problem. It was my decision for the final game [not to play him against Borussia Monchengladbach].
In the first round Mandzu played. For Thomas Muller or Claudio Pizarro sometimes not. In this situation, I see and analyse what is best for the team. That's the only reason. There is no other.
Mandzukic has made 15 starts this season, but he rarely completes 90 minutes. As recorded by WhoScored.com, the Croatian star failed to run a full race in nine consecutive games between Sept. 27 and Nov. 5 last year, while he has only remained on the pitch during four appearances since the latter date.
He is dispensable to Bayern. With Robert Lewandowski joining the club this summer, per ESPN FC, his value to the team is on the cusp of lessening even further.
Bayern legend Franz Beckenbauer also suggested the Pole's arrival is likely to halt Mandzukic's progress, as tweeted by Germany-based pundit Jan Aage Fjortoft:
Beckenbauer in Die Welt: - I don't think Mandzukic has a future at Bayern when Lewandowski comes.— Jan Aage Fjortoft (@JanAageFjortoft) January 29, 2014
January is the perfect time for Wenger to sign the player up. Arsenal undoubtedly need a striker who can produce regular goals and someone to support Olivier Giroud, who continues to work extremely hard for his team.
Should Arsenal try to sign Mario Mandzukic in January?
Giroud's 10 goals in 21 Premier League appearances, reported by WhoScored.com, fail to show just how heavy the Frenchman's workload is. He has completed 12 of the past 15 games with his lowest total of minutes coming in at 76.
Should something happen to the former Montpellier player, the enigmatic Nicklas Bendtner or Lukas Podolski—who isn't an out-and-out striker—would be forced to fill in.
Talk of players such as Diego Costa coming in may be exciting, reported by Jack Wilson of the Daily Star, but Mandzukic is a viable option who could certainly be attained.
The former Wolfsburg star possesses all the attributes Wenger currently needs. He can hold the ball up, is strong in the air and looks to move possession on quickly when supported by wide men.
Mandzukic is also a lethal finisher, someone who doesn't play too differently to Giroud, ensuring he would slot straight into the current system.
Such an addition could be vital when you consider the horrific schedule that is approaching Arsenal throughout February and March:
Arsenal's fixtures in February and March. Daunting? Daunting: pic.twitter.com/usSakG0wKs— Bleacher Report UK (@br_uk) January 26, 2014
Although Wenger has suggested any winter deals are "unlikely" for the Gunners—per Sky Sports—he would do extremely well to land Mandzukic before the summer, when the striker is likely to garner major interest.
The 27-year-old would certainly bolster a squad that lacks in-depth striking talent and, indeed, heighten Arsenal's chances of making it through an intimidating few months by sharing the goalscoring burden currently sitting on Giroud's shoulders.