Mario Mandzukic does not have the South American flair that the last player to get a contract extension from Juventus does. As much of Alex Sandro’s game is bringing offense to his defensive position, Mandzukic’s game is basically three main parts — scoring big goals in big games, aiding the defense like few strikers can and being the walking embodiment of what grinta truly is.
And with Sandro’s contract extension now official and in the rear view mirror, it looks as though the Juventus edition of the Contract Extension Watch is going to be centered around everybody’s favorite grumpy Croatian.
According to Friday morning’s edition of Tuttosport, Mandzukic is almost certain to be the next Juventus player in line to receive a contract extension following Sandro signing a new deal through 2023 on Thursday. While negotiations haven’t truly gotten into the heat of things, there’s obviously a mutual interest from both sides to get something done. So much so that Tuttosport believes that a deal could be reached come January or February. (Yes, the new year is only about a week and a half away, people.)
As talks truly get going in the very near future, there is basically one main thing that the Juventus front office and Mandzukic’s representation have to figure out — just how long the new contract will be. Do Juve give Mandzukic — who, like Sandro prior to brand new contract, is under the club’s control until 2020 — a deal that will keep him in Turin until he’s 35 or 36 years old?
At 32 years old, it’s not like Mandzukic is going to be able to play at his current level for years on years on years. A lot like Giorgio Chiellini, Mandzukic’s playing style that involves so much physicality and pain tolerance doesn’t exactly lend itself to aging well as you get closer and closer to your mid- or late-30s. (Although Chiellini is basically proving that wrong this season with the form he’s been in ever since opening day.)
But there is no denying, with the way the squad is current constructed in attack around Cristiano Ronaldo, that Mandzukic’s role on this team is a vital one. There is no prima punta on the club who has played the kind of minutes that Mandzukic has this season. And as much as we want Moise Kean to get a chance, it’s pretty clear at this point that an attack with Mandzukic as the point man is what Max Allegri wants.
So, it’s not surprising at all that Juve are looking to lock down Mr. No Good to what could very well be the final major contract extension of his professional career. With what he’s given to the club and how he’s still producing goal after goal, I’d say he’s earned it.