focus20 January 2021

MARIO MANDŽUKIĆ IN FOCUS

A closer look at AC Milan's new Croatian signing

A player who’s enjoyed a highly successful career: Mario Mandžukić has joined Soualiho Meïte in signing on the dotted line for AC Milan during the current transfer window. Born in 1986, the Croatian striker, who will turn 35 on 21 May, has returned to Italy and is ready to wear the Rossoneri shirt. As was the case with Ibrahimović and Kjær a year ago, he was specifically targeted to bring more experience and ambition to the squad. And now he’s about to add another chapter to an already prestigious career.

CHARACTERISTICS
A robust striker, he excels in the box but is able to play in a more supporting role in attack. While he undoubtedly likes to finish moves off, he's also willing to make a contribution when his team are defending. Standing at 190 cm tall, he combines great physical prowess (86 kg) with astuteness, while he's also good with his feet and particularly impressive with his head. His determination, power, desire and hunger have always made him stand out. It's no coincidence that he's earned himself such a move at this stage of his career. A gladiator that is able to cover several roles, he'll be another excellent attacking option in Coach Pioli's 4-2-3-1 formation.

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CAREER
Born in Slavonski Brod, Mandžukić began his career at Marsonia, whose youth setup he was once a part of. It was here where he started to find the net, and he repeated this at NK Zagreb and then, most notably, at Dinamo Zagreb (53 goals in 112 appearances), the club whose books he was on when he made his Champions League debut. In 2010, he made a big career move when he accepted an offer from German side Wolfsburg. In his first couple of seasons in the Bundesliga, the quality he demonstrated convinced Bayern Munich to sign him in the summer of 2012. While at the Bavarian side, he won the Champions League (scoring the goal to make it 1-0 in the 2012/13 final), the UEFA Super Cup, the Club World Cup, two league titles, the German Cup twice and also the German Super Cup. In 2014, after scoring 48 goals in 88 matches, he moved to Spain, joining Atlético Madrid. He made a great start, too, with Diego Simeone’s side beating their cross-city rivals Real to win the Spanish Super Cup thanks to the Croat’s decisive goal. However, he only played a season of La Liga football before signing for Juventus. While at the Bianconeri, where he stayed for four years – the longest spell of his career – he won various domestic titles, becoming a key figure for the team from Turin. Particularly unforgettable was his wonderful bicycle kick in the 2016/17 Champions League final, although it wasn’t enough to avoid a 4-1 defeat in Cardiff. Most recently, between December 2019 and June 2020, he spent time in Qatar, playing for Al-Duhail.

NATIONAL TEAM
After featuring for Croatia's U19, U20 and U21 sides, he made his senior Croatia debut in 2007 and went on to retire from international football in 2018. Across eleven years, he scored 33 goals in 89 appearances and took part in two World Cups (2014 and 2018) and two European Championships (2012 and 2016). At the World Cup in Russia in 2018, he played a leading role as Croatia made it to their first-ever final, although he couldn’t prevent a French victory in Moscow. Mandžukić netted three times in the tournament, including in Croatia’s semi-final showdown against England and in the final.


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