Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone’s recent dispute with striker Mario Mandzukic is likely to see the Croatian leave the Vicente Calderon at the end of the season, says Sky Sports’ Spanish football expert Terry Gibson.
Simeone surprisingly relegated Mandzukic to the substitutes’ bench for the champions’ recent goalless draw in Sevilla that all but ended their hopes of retaining the title.
And Gibson now expects Mandzukic, who was heavily linked with a number of Premier League clubs last summer before deciding to swap Bayern Munich for the Spanish capital, to leave Atleti come the end of this campaign.
“It is controversial to see Mandzukic and Simeone falling out. I thought at first Fernando Torres’s arrival was good for Mandzukic, who responded with some good form,” he told this week’s Revista de la Liga podcast.
“So I was surprised he was left out against Sevilla, which was a tough game, having been in good form, even recently. I am not sure how Simeone has managed it. I do not know if he has spoken to Mandzukic, given an explanation and told him he wanted to rest him. We have no information on how that relationship works.”
However, Gibson thinks Mandzukic, who has scored 20 goals in all competitions so far in his debut season in Madrid, including 12 in just 23 league games, has been harshly treated by the Argentine.
“But I come down on Mandzukic’s side in that he has done really well for Atletico, been a terrific signing, a talisman leading the line,” he added. “Mandzukic takes a lot of the weight off Antoine Griezmann, and then to suddenly be left out, I can understand him having a strop.
“Mandzukic looked as though he was still moody when he came on. During the week he was meant to be in the starting XI for this weekend’s game, but his attitude in training was not great and he lost his place.
“So that is Simeone’s prerogative. If they had won 1-0, then he would have got away with it, but Mandzukic came on and picked up a booking, so he is suspended for next week, which is another disciplinary issue.
“If Simeone thinks he is the winner here because Mandzukic leaves, then I am not sure that is the case as they will lose a really good player. So I hope that gets resolved, but I am not so sure it will be though.
“Mandzukic is a strong personality and sometimes a player has to stand his ground. I know it is not the done thing – I have done it myself – but sometimes you have to if you do not feel you are being appreciated and getting the respect you feel your good form deserves.”