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United ‘very close’ to sign striker

mario-mandzukicMario Mandzukic is “very close” to join Manchester United this summer, according to former AC Milan and Croatia midfielder Milan Rapaic.

The Atletico Madrid man has become the latest of a number of strikers linked with a move to Old Trafford, as Louis Van Gaal looks to bolster his attacking options after a campaign during which his side struggled in front of goal.

With Radamel Falcao returning to Monaco after a disastrous loan spell, although the Colombian looks poised to join Chelsea later this month, and neither Javier Hernandez nor Robin Van Persie guaranteed to be at the club when the season kicks off in August, United need to add firepower up-front.

“He’s perfect for any team in any European league…it appears to me that he’s very close to Manchester United,” Rapaic told Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The 29-year-old Croatian, who scored 12 goals in 24 league appearances for Atletico Madrid last season as he moved to the Vicente Calderon to replace Diego Costa, is a completely different player from Karim Benzema and Harry Kane, the two striker with whom United have been repeatedly linked this summer.

Known for his abrasive and confrontational approach, Mandzukic is not as as quick as Benzema or Kane, although he can intimidate defences with his physicality and is link-up play often does not get the recognition it deserves. Furthermore, despite his imposing presence, there’s more to Mandzukic’s game than sheer physical strength as his 18 goals in 21 games for Bayern Munich in the 2013-14 season showed.