Mario Mandzukic is reportedly set to move to Atletico Madrid, seemingly dealing a fatal blow to both Chelsea and Arsenal's pursuit of the in-demand striker while also creating more confusion over the future of Romelu Lukaku.
Bayern Munich frontman Mandzukic has found himself at the centre of non-stop transfer speculation for months now, having made his desire to depart the Allianz Arena abundantly clear following the climax of the 2013/14 campaign.
Indeed, the Premier League seemed a likely destination with both Chelsea and Arsenal credited with a strong interest but, according to reports from the player's native Croatia cited by The Daily Express, Manduzkic will join La Liga champions Atletico for just £14 million - a seemingly dramatic reduction from the £20 million price Bayern appeared to be previously demanding for his services.
Atletico's desire to quickly secure the signing of the a new striker of Mandzukic's caliber is certainly no surprise, particularly given last week's confirmation that they had agreed a deal with Chelsea over the sale of Spanish international Diego Costa and with David Villa also having left the Vicente Calderon after just one season to become the first signing for new Major League Soccer outfit New York City FC.
Although perhaps not the best fit for Bayern manager Pep Guardiola's particular brand of football, the perenially underrated Mandzukic can nevertheless lay claim to an impressive goalscoring record during his trophy-laden spell in the Bundesliga and, at that price, would appear to represent a cost-effective replacement for Costa - at least in the short-term.
Watch: The latest Arsenal transfer news
Chelsea and Arsenal disappointment
Despite Chelsea's impressive addition of Costa, the exit of veteran Samuel Eto'o - coupled with the uncertainty surrounding the likes of Fernando Torres and Demba Ba - has led many to believe that Jose Mourinho is still in the market for the addition of another forward and it seems likely that the Portuguese will rue Atletico's deal for Mandzukic.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have been linked with a variety of strikers in recent months, with Arsene Wenger evidently eager to provide a markedly stronger source of competition and support for the lonely figure of Olivier Giroud now that the hapless Nicklas Bendtner has finally reached the end of his contract at the Emirates Stadium.
With the possibility of capturing Mandzukic now seemingly no longer a realistic proposition, it looks as if Wenger will now have to look elsewhere for new talent - a potential deal for Queens Park Rangers marksman and France international Loic Remy could be a credible alternative option.
Lukaku loan off?
Quite how Atletico's decision to press ahead with the signing of Mandzukic will effect their apparent pursuit of Lukaku also remains to be seen.
Reports emanating from the Spanish press only yesterday had appeared to boldly claim that Los Rojiblancos had already closed a deal that would see the 21-year-old Belgian join Diego Simeone's squad on loan in time for 2014/15, but it is questionable whether such a temporary addition is now necessary.
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