Karim Benzema Is Key in Reported Real Madrid Transfer Move for Mario Mandzukic

Samuel Marsden@@samuelmarsdenFeatured ColumnistJune 11, 2014

Croatia's Mario Mandzukic listens to the national anthem ahead of the international soccer friendly match between Croatia and Mali, in Osijek, Croatia, Saturday, May 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
Darko Bandic/Associated Press

Since Pep Guardiola arrived at Bayern Munich, Mario Mandzukic's future has been under scrutiny.

Since it was announced that Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski will join the German champions last January, it seemed a foregone conclusion that the 28-year-old would be ushered out of the Allianz Arena.

And judging by Mandzukic's comments to Sportske Novosti (via Football Espana), it now seems just a matter of time until the Croatian leaves the club:

At Bayern it was fantastic. It is a fantastic club. Indeed, until recently I did not even think about leaving, and especially that it would happen now. But let's be honest, the style Guardiola wants at Bayern does not suit me.

In the first leg against Real Madrid [in the Champions League], I definitely understood, no matter how much I try, I can't get the best out of myself with this style. When it is like that, I don't feel good and it is best for everyone that we part.

With that statement, Spanish publication Marca (via Football Espana) have insisted that Real Madrid will make a move for Mandzukic if they fail in their bid to lure Uruguayan international Luis Suarez from Liverpool.

Looking at it from one angle, the Bayern frontman is needed at the Bernabeu.

Gonzalo Higuain departed for Napoli last summer, and although Gareth Bale arrived, he wasn't directly replaced; on top of that, young forward Alvaro Morata appears certain to, at least temporarily, head out of the exit door soon.

That would leave Carlo Ancelotti with just two players who can play the central forward role in his squad: Karim Benzema and youngster Jese Rodriguez.

From another angle though, Mandzukic's signing would present similar problems to those which surfaced during the seasons that Benzema and Higuain both spent in the Spanish capital.

Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

Paulo Duarte/Associated Press

Both strikers, in form, are more than deserving of being Madrid's No. 9, however the problem arises when the big games roll around and Ancelotti can only opt for one or the other due to the nature of his side's formation.

If anyone has shown that they can rotate and keep the peace though, it is the Italian.

He has managed what was a potentially volatile situation with Iker Casillas and Diego Lopez very well, somehow keeping both goalkeepers relatively happy and the Madrid-based press off his back.

Similar success was also enjoyed in the full-back positions, in which he switched between Alvaro Arbeloa and Dani Carvajal at right-back and, toward the end of the season, between Marcelo and Fabio Coentrao at left-back.

The final angle to breach the rumour with though isn't a good one for Benzema.

With Madrid seemingly intent on signing a new striker—with Suarez and Mandzukic appearing the top two targets—Benzema could be liable for a transfer out of the club.

Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain have been linked with the Frenchman by Nick Lustig of the Daily Star, although they do claim he has no intention of leaving Madrid, instead suggesting that he hopes to finish his career with Los Blancos.

However, with the decision taken out of his hands, Benzema could change his mind on that front.

That's just one of the three possibilities though, and there are certain to be plenty of twists and turns in the transfer market during, and after, the World Cup.


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