With Fikayo Tomori having made an instant impact and Soualiho Meite starting to settle, accusative eyes have now been cast in Mario Mandzukic’s direction.
As Calciomercato.com writes, Mandzukic joined as a free agent in the January transfer window and it was expected that he would take some time to get back into top physical condition, given his last competition fixture was March 2018. He sustained a muscle problem on 18 February against Red Star which has turned out to be more serious than expected, preventing a return to being anywhere near to 100% depriving Stefano Pioli of the only real alternative to Ibrahimovic at a key point in the season.
Maldini and Massara’s gamble not to invest anything (salary aside) in the attacking department in the January window risks being one that will not pay off, given that while Pioli has been excellent at doing the best with what he has, neither Rafael Leao nor Ante Rebic are genuine back-up strikers and Lorenzo Colombo was allowed to leave on loan. Ibrahimovic’s potential fragility from the point of view of physical condition was well known, too.
Milan chose to give Mandzukic a chance, a player who had just returned from a long period of inactivity, and give him a salary of €1.8million for six months plus the potential to renew for another season in case of Milan’s qualification for the next Champions League. Just 158 minutes are what he has to show so far, making Mandzukic perhaps the only real mistake committed by the Maldini-Massara duo on the market for a year now. However, there is still time for that to change.