For those who have been clamoring for Los Angeles Football Club to sign big names, a rumor in Italy on Friday has appeared, linking the club to Juventus forward Mario Mandzukic.
The 33-year-old was rumored to be on the move in the summer transfer window, but a transfer never came to fruition, so he’s began the season at the defending Serie A champs, but is being sidelined by Maurizio Sarri. However, Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio reported on his site on Friday that LAFC are interested in Mandzukic, while he’s also drawing interest from Qatar, where the transfer window is still open. Apparently, Juventus are willing to move on from the Croatian ASAP, even willing to let him leave and train elsewhere until the transfer window opens again in January, if a move for him comes together.
Now, what’s the chances this actually happens? Hard to say, obviously almost anything could happen, but there are some real barriers here. First, Mandzukic is under contract until the summer of 2021, and his transfer value is probably somewhere in the $20 million range, which has only been paid once in MLS history, and for a 33-year-old, it might be hard to justify that kind of money, never mind his wages, as he currently makes €6m, with only Carlos Vela making something in that range on LAFC.
There’s also the Designated Player situation. LAFC currently have all three spots spoken for, and it is possible Diego Rossi could be sold abroad in January, making the transition easy. Or, the team may have the flexibility to pay down Rossi or Brian Rodriguez to be TAM players instead of DPs, but at that point we’re getting into major speculation and it’s simply hard to say if it’s even feasible.
Would LAFC want Mandzukic? Again, hard to say if he fits in their plans, but with LAFC seeing some minor issues this season between the starting center forwards, Adama Diomande and Christian Ramirez (since traded away), with consistency and health, finding a presumed upgrade isn’t a bad thing. Add to that, LAFC will be playing in Concacaf Champions League in 2020 and having a player like Mandzukic, with extensive UEFA Champions League experience, able to bolster the squad would be great. In many ways, he’s a superior option to Tigres’ Andre-Pierre Gignac, a European forward who became the class of Concacaf and has settled into Mexico wonderfully, and could be a great blueprint for a team like LAFC.
But there’s also every chance this is the classic scenario of a player’s agent planting a story like this in the news to get the market moving, and with LAFC in first place in MLS, a lot of agents think of MLS as a vague abstract leverage piece. With Qatar’s transfer window closing later this month, we may see a resolution to this quickly if Mandzukic ultimately joins a team there. If not, this could be something to see what happens and keep an eye on before and during the winter transfer window. We’ll see.
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