Coveted striker Mario Mandzukic is on the move yet again after agreeing to a transfer to Atletico Madrid, confirmed by Bayern Munich's official Twitter:
Atletico provided the following statement on their official website:
Atlético de Madrid and Bayern Munich have reached an agreement for the transfer of Mario Mandžukić. The Croatian striker successfully underwent the medical examination in Madrid before signing a contract for four years with our Club.
Jose Luis Perez Caminero, Atletico's director of football, commented:
The incorporation of Mario Mandžukić is great news because he has the features we were looking for to cover this position. He’s a strong forward, with a great high ball control and a powerful shot. It allows us to start pressuring behind the rival from the beginning, because he works hard on playing the ball out of defence. He fits well with his attacking teammates and is used to competing at the highest level. He’s a winner, a player used to win titles. He’ll contribute very much.
The former Bayern star is eyeing a fresh start where he can be the focal point of the attack, which is exactly the role he will fill as he steps into the boots of Chelsea acquisition Diego Costa.
The 28-year-old Croatian publicly expressed his unhappiness playing under Bayern manager Pep Guardiola's system, which he felt didn't suit his abilities.
Earlier this summer, Mandzukic explained his reason for requesting an exit from Bayern, per Sportske Novosti, via the Daily Mail's Chris Waugh:
I met (Bayern chairman) Karl Heinz Rummenigge before the cup final and told him I wanted to leave the club. I've had a fantastic time at Bayern. It's a great club and I never thought I'd want to leave, and especially not at this point in time. But, let's be honest, I cannot play to my strengths under Guardiola's style—no matter how hard I try. I realised that after the 1-0 defeat by Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final first leg and, that being the case, it's best for all parties that we go our separate ways.
Despite his complaints, Mandzukic was a goal-scoring machine in two seasons with the Bavarians, scoring 48 goals in 88 appearances in all competitions and leading the club with 18 goals in 30 appearances in the Bundesliga this past season.
However, the 6'2" forward was nullified by Real Madrid in Bayern's disappointing Champions League semi-final exit in April, ties that highlighted Munich's need for change.
Atletico will hope he has a greater impact across the course of the La Liga season, as they attempt to defend their domestic crown.
Given Mandzukic's productivity, Bayern will surely be sad to see him go. But for Mandzukic, the move will allow for him to take on a more prominent role where he'll be able to showcase his lethal finishing on a consistent basis.
As Opta Sports on Twitter notes, few players are able to score in the variety of ways that Mandzukic can:
Costa was an all-round centre-forward for Atletico last term. He chased lost causes, held up the ball, bullied defenders and supplied a hatful of goals.
Mandzukic is in the same mould, if slightly less mobile than the Spain international.
Although Mandzukic will have to adjust while making his transition from the Bundesliga, he's an experienced and accomplished player who has also left his mark on the international stage with the Croatia national team.
Jan Aage Fjortoft, former player and now media personality, cannot believe Atletico were not challenged more strongly by English clubs for Mandzukic's signature:
Mandzukic has scored more than a dozen goals for his country since debuting for the senior squad in 2007 and added to his impressive resume at this summer's 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
So long as the gifted striker continues to make the most of his chances around the box and open up scoring opportunities for others with his presence, he's sure to become a hit in Madrid.
Bayern are unlikely to miss Mandzukic, given their own acquisition of Robert Lewandowski from Borussia Dortmund, but it will be interesting to see which of the two strikers succeeds better at their new clubs in 2014-15.
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