Milan’s number 9 jersey, a number wrapped in a ‘curse’ since Filippo Inzaghi left it in 2012, added Croatian Mario Mandzukic to his long series of ‘victims’ as the veteran forward, signed last January, said goodbye this Monday of the milanista club without being able to score goals. Mandzukic himself announced his departure.
“It was a pleasure playing for Milan. I am grateful to the club’s board of directors for giving me this opportunity, to the coaching staff for their work and to my teammates who are not only excellent players but also a great group of guys,” wrote Mandzukic, 35. years, on his Instagram account to say goodbye to Milan.
“I am happy to be able to take this great club to the Champions League, to which it belongs. I only wish this club the best for the future,” added the expert forward, former player of Atlético Madrid, Bayern Munich or Juventus Turin, among others.
Mandzukic, who arrived free at Milan in the last winter market in an attempt to provide an alternative to the Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic, lived six months burdened by injuries and could barely play 287 minutes, without seeing the door.
Despite the lack of prominence, the Croatian left a good memory in Milan and was the protagonist of a noble gesture by renouncing his March salary, having almost never been available due to his physical problems.
However, his name was added to a list of illustrious number 9s who have failed to triumph with Milan since the departure of Filippo Inzaghi, legend of the ‘rossonero’ team and the Italian national team.
Fernando Torres, the Brazilians Alexandre Pato and Luiz Adriano, the Argentine Gonzalo Higuaín, the Portuguese André Silva, the Polish Krzysztof Piatek or the Italian-Peruvian Gianluca Lapadula are some of the forwards who wore the shirt left free by Pippo Inzaghi and who also failed to shine.
The ‘Niño’ ’Fernando Torres, an all-around champion with the Spanish national team, arrived in Milan in the summer of 2014 and debuted with a real header on a visit to Empoli. However, that ‘target’ was the only one of his stage, finished after six months with his return to Atlético Madrid.
Pipita ’Higuaín also chose jersey number 9 and his experience at Milan ended with eight goals in 22 games, and one exit after six months to join Chelsea.
With Mandzukic, Milan says goodbye to a striker who won 24 trophies in his career, including a Champions League, a European Super Cup, a Club World Cup and nine league titles.
In addition, he is the second most striker of the Croatian team (33 goals in 89 games), with which he lost the final of the 2018 World Cup in Russia against France.
Despite not succeeding on a personal level, Mandzukic was part of a group that this Sunday, thanks to their 2-0 victory at Atalanta, returned to the Champions League after seven years of waiting. Milan finished second in Serie A, behind champion Inter. his neighbor, and ahead of Atalanta and Juventus, who handed over their title of champion of Italy after nine consecutive titles.