Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger needs to retool his options in attack this summer, and one centre-forward won't be enough. The Frenchman should strongly consider a double swoop for Croatia stars Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic.
The pair has impressed at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and each answers an obvious need for the Gunners. Mandzukic scored twice in Croatia's 4-0 Group A demolition of Cameroon, but Perisic was the star of the show. He netted his team's second goal, a brilliant solo run after pouncing on an errant goalkeeping clearance.
Earlier in the match, Perisic had provided a classy and clever assist for veteran Ivica Olic to open the scoring. Perisic's performance was typical of his overall talent, one based on superior technical quality and intelligent movement.
He currently plays his club football with Olic at Bundesliga team Wolfsburg. The 25-year-old usually begins a game on the flanks, just as he does for Croatia.
But Perisic is at his best ghosting from wide areas into dangerous positions through the middle. He plays a little more directly for Wolfsburg than he does for his nation.
Perisic wears the number 9 at club level, and regularly drifts into positions as the focal point of his team's attack. That is exactly the kind of player Arsenal need for their fluid front three.
Wenger needs a quick and powerful runner who will be difficult for defenders to track, while providing a natural target for creative playmakers Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey.
The Gunners chief gets that from the right side on the rare occasions Theo Walcott is injury-free. However, the left side has been a problem position for a while.
Lukas Podolski has failed to produce on a consistent basis. But even before the arrival of the German in 2012, players such as Gervinho and Yossi Benayoun struggled to be effective from the left flank.
Wenger has taken to slotting Santi Cazorla into that position. It's a decent ploy to get Cazorla and Ozil on the field together.
But Arsenal need a quicker, more direct player in the wide berth. Perisic is exactly that, having netted 10 Bundesliga goals last season, according to WhoScored.com.
He is also known to Arsenal fans thanks to his magnificent late equaliser for Borussia Dortmund in a UEFA Champions League group game in 2011.
Wenger is clearly in the market for a roving wide forward. He is rumoured to have bid for Chile speedster Alexis Sanchez, per Spanish radio station Cope (h/t Sports Witness).
Wenger is also keen on superb French winger Antoine Griezmann, according to Ben Jefferson of The Daily Express. Both players would cost a hefty sum to bring to North London, but Perisic could be had for a bargain fee.
He is reportedly the subject of an £8 million bid from Premier League rivals Everton, per Daily Mail writer Simon Jones. This isn't just the bias of a writer who has talked up Perisic in more than one World Cup preview, but Wenger simply has to match that offer.
Since Arsenal started letting anyone who would listen know that their spending power has significantly increased, many fans will only accept signings in the £20-50 million bracket.
But Wenger cannot ignore his history of securing quality players for modest investments. Critics will want to pounce on that sentence, but they should remember that current fan darling Laurent Koscielny arrived for a small fee and to tepid fanfare.
Perisic is a quick and stylish goalscorer with the strength and energy to be a major hit in the Premier League. Wenger shouldn't overlook the Croatian winger this summer.
Speaking of suitable for the Premier League, that's just what Mandzukic would be. Arsenal could even get the prolific Bayern Munich striker for just £15 million, per a report in Metro.
That represents a major investment in a player who has never been able to avoid trouble and controversy for long.
Balotelli is certainly physically more talented than Mandzukic. The Italian's pace, touch and finishing quality exceeds that of the Croatian frontman. However, Mandzukic is a scrappy, towering target man who plays with the graft and aggression to be a more dependable player in English football.
Like current starting striker Olivier Giroud, Mandzukic is also a smart link player, who uses aerial prowess and willing running to create chances for others. That dynamic has become the foundation for how Arsenal attack and score many of their goals.
Mandzukic has stayed prolific, scoring 18 league goals to help Bayern retain the Bundesliga this season, per WhoScored.com. He also has not lost his happy knack for scoring in big games, something Giroud has yet to master in an Arsenal shirt.
If Mandzukic can be acquired for a fee under £20 million, Wenger shouldn't hesitate to make a move for the 28-year-old.
Partnering Perisic and Mandzukic together next season would give Arsenal two skilled and versatile hard workers up front. The international teammates would add the greater pace, power and guile the Gunners need in attack.