The big story of West Ham’s summer has been the so far fruitless hunt for a new striker. Whilst we have added quality in other position, a proven goalscorer has been elusive.
Lacazette and Tevez have both turned down moves. Now this week Carlos Bacca has rejected West Ham, saying he would prefer to have Champions League football.
However, a new name is now being mentioned. Mario Mandžukić may just be the answer to our problems up front. Importantly, there are indications that he would be open to coming to East London.
Mandžukić is a physically imposing yet mobile striker. He is comfortable with a high paced pressing style and has excellent stamina. He contributes greatly to defensive play as well, an area of weakness for West Ham last season.
He is outstanding in the air, and rarely beaten when it comes to tussling with defenders. So he definitely won’t struggle to acclimatise to the Premier League style of play.
There is more to Mandžukić than just strength, though. He is a skilful player, with the ability to find space and opportunities for others. He is also a clinical finisher.
In this regard, he may be considered an upgraded version of Andy Carroll. This may well count against him if Bilic is looking for a different dynamic.
Proven goalscoring record
Mandžukić is a proven goalscorer in Italy, Spain and Germany. Last season he had a decent return of 10 goals in 24 appearances for Juventus.
In his stint at Atletico Madrid, he managed 20 goals in 43 appearances. Furthermore, he was especially prolific during his time in Germany. A tally of 48 goals in 88 appearances for Bayern Munich is mightily impressive. The similarities in style between the Premier League and Bundesliga gives added promise.
The fact that Mandžukić has shown himself to be versatile and capable of scoring against elite opposition may give him the edge over the likes of Ben Yedder. After all, history has shown that topping the scoring charts in Ligue 1 is no guarantee of success in England.
Mandžukić is also prolific for his country. He has 24 goals in 68 caps for Croatia. Indeed, he has previously been named Croatian footballer of the year and been pivotal for them in multiple major tournaments. He helped guide Croatia to the last 16 in the Euros this summer.
Therefore, the striker has an abundance of big game experience. He may add some leadership and steel in the club’s efforts of becoming an established European force.
Would he come to the Olympic Stadium?
Luckily for West Ham, circumstances mean that Mandžukić may be looking to leave Juventus. The club looks set to sign Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli, meaning that starting places for Mandžukić could be rare this season.
If he is to depart, West Ham would in some ways seem a natural destination. After all, it was Slaven Bilic who gave the striker his first international cap, and they are believed to have a very warm relationship. Bilic may just be able to charm his compatriot into joining up.
If he does, then he could be the man who takes West Ham to new heights this season.