According to Fabrizio Romano, free agent Mario Mandzukic turned down a move to Aston Villa recently.
Having seen his time at Qatari side Al-Duhail come to an end, the Croatian striker has been on the look-out for a new club, and it’s now been suggested that Villa had actually offered him a route back into football.
Speaking on his Here We Go podcast, Romano said: “Mandzukic, in my opinion, is an amazing player and look at players like Mandzukic, like (Alexandre) Pato, like (Mario) Balotelli – they are free agents – it was crazy some years ago to see these kinds of players as free agents. He was so close to joining Manchester United one year ago, Mario Mandzukic.
“He had a bid from (the) Premier League, it was like three or four weeks ago, it was from Aston Villa. They were trying to sign him as a free agent and Mario Mandzukic said no. He also turned down an opportunity to join Bologna here in Italy, so it’s up to him. He wants an important project. He will have a lot of bids, but at the moment, with Aston Villa, he said no.”
At 34, Mandzukic may be in the twilight years of his career, but there’s no doubting that he would’ve brought a kind of experience and winning mentality that the current Villa squad just don’t have.
The Croatian has featured in World Cup and Champions League finals, and won trophies wherever he’s been at club level, and certainly has the kind of play that would have offered Dean Smith’s side a completely different option.
The 6 foot 3 powerhouse is a battering ram in the air, but also equally adept with his feet. It was no wonder that his former manager at Juventus, Massimiliano Allegri, said: “Mario is a key player. His combination of technical and physical attributes make him an extraordinary player.”
Villa of course saw arguably the best version of Christian Benteke in his time at Villa Park; a big man with an incredible leap but capable of some silky touches and flicks too.
Mandzukic is in a similar mould, but would have added a touch of proven quality and match-winning experience. They won’t shed tears of seeing him turn them down, but boy would it have been a great signing on a free transfer.