Man Utd lead Arsenal in race to land Bayern’s number nine

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When Mario Mandzukic arrived at Bayern Munich in the summer of 2012 it saw their former number one striker, Mario Gomez, slip down the pecking order and eventually out of the club altogether.

Now, with Borussia Dortmund sensation Robert Lewandowski ready to join arch rivals Munich at the end of this season, Croatian Mandzukic is about to experience firsthand what that sliding motion feels like.

Pep Guardiola, who has a 13/5 chance with Ladbrokes of helping Bayern retain their Champions League crown, has never been a manager with whom playing two strikers is permanently associated, in fact the ex-Barcelona mastermind is more likely to field none than he is to pair a couple of them together.

So, with Lewandowski riding in on a chariot of goals, the Pole is sure to assume top-dog status among the Allianz Arena striking ranks, leaving Mandzukic to play second fiddle.

For a proven goalscorer like the former Wolfsburg man, who has 12 goals in 21 appearances for his club this season, a demotion to the bench is going to be tough to take.

It’s therefore easy to see why both Manchester United and Arsenal are on tenterhooks, eagerly monitoring the situation to see how it pans out and ready with their chequebooks in hand for the minute the relationship turns sour.

Arsenal’s need for the player is obviously greater, with Olivier Giroud and currently injured Nicklas Bendtner the only senior strikers on their books, but it is the David Moyes-managed club who have emerged as favourites to bring the joint-Euro 2012 topscorer to England.

Moyes took an interest in Mandzukic when he was still a Toffee but was never able to thrash out a deal, perhaps hamstrung by a lack of funds, but with United’s wads of cash now available to wave freely, the Scot will feel far more confident of sealing a deal.

With the now customary rumours surrounding Wayne Rooney’s future re-emerging, Moyes will need a high-calibre frontman to replace him and few live up to the bill like Bayern’s potentially two-time Champions League winner.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.