Mario Mandzukic has tucked away at least 20 all-competition club goals in each of the past four seasons, so it’s no wonder Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone’s falling out with the striker has caused such transfer furore.
According to website Football Italia, the 29-year-old has already agreed personal terms with dominant Serie A force Juventus, while indicating that a Carlos Tevez move to the Vicente Calderon could sweeten the deal in negotiations with Atleti.
However, The Daily Star’s recent conjecture on the matter suggests a deal might not be as imminent as all that; the red top believes Juve stopper Gianluigi Buffon had several words in Mandzukic’s ear on the subject following Italy’s 1-1 draw with Croatia in EURO 2016 qualifying.
The Star speculates that Juventus and Manchester United are the only sides in with a chance of snaring the former Bayern Munich man, despite reported interest from Milan, Arsenal, Liverpool, Zenit St Petersburg and ex-employers Wolfsburg since the start of the summer.
Having made much of the early running in the race for Mandzukic, according to various UK media sources, losing out on another forward target would be a particularly crushing blow for Liverpool, especially if, as was the case with Memphis Depay, he signs for hated rivals United.
The Merseysiders were linked to the 60-cap striker back in early January, with his future in doubt after Simeone picked up former Los Colchoneros captain Fernando Torres on loan, and The Metro stated in April that Liverpool would fund landing “one of [manager]Brendan Rodgers’ favourite players” by selling Mario Balotelli.
Alas, the Reds look unlikely to raise anything like the £16m they paid Milan for Balotelli, and were always going to struggle to lure a man who has played 10 Champions League matches in each of the past three seasons, when only able to offer Europa League fare.
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