By Christoph Kockeis
Former Brazil international Giovane Elber believes that Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic is on the same level as Robert Lewandowski, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 27-year-old lost his place as undisputed first-choice forward under Pep Guardiola this term despite playing a key role in last season's treble triumph, but Elber insists his ability to deliver in big matches makes him one of the best attackers in the world.
"Mandzukic is up there with any one. He is no less than Robert Lewandowski, Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Cristiano Ronaldo," Elber told Goal.
"The important thing is that you deliver whenever you are called upon. And Mandzukic did just that."
Mandzukic was briefly dropped from the first team after the winter break after Guardiola perceived him to be showing a lack of effort in training, but Elber believes the Croatia international's frustration at being left out proved his strength of character.
"Every now and then you feel offended and are unhappy with your situation. Things like that happen and are only human," he said.
"For me, that only shows that you have character. Nobody needs someone who is always satisfied."
Mandzukic's future at Bayern remains in doubt as Lewandowski prepares to complete a summer move from Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund.
Elber - who himself was forced to leave the club after finding his place in the side unsettled - hinted that Mandzukic may have to follow suit if he is to avoid growing unhappy at the Allianz Arena.
"I was Bundesliga topscorer in 2003 and we won the domestic double. One month later, they bought Roy Makaay," added the Brazilian.
"I thought we would play together, but I had to leave and find a new club. I moved on because I didn't want to ruin the great time I had at Bayern."
Mandzukic has a contract with Bayern until June 2016 but has been linked with clubs including Juventus and Arsenal.