After months of speculation, Juventus have emerged victorious in securing the signature of one of Europe’s most sought after strikers. Gonzalo Higuain has been signed for a record fee of £75.3 million, becoming the most expensive transfer for a striker.
With the deal done, one question that has immediately been brought up is whether or not the Argentinian is worth the sum that has been paid for him or has Juventus made a hasty mistake in finding a replacement for Alvaro Morata?
Once the transfer window began and reports broke out that Higuain wanted to leave Napoli, Arsenal always seemed to be in the picture. The North Londoners did their best to try and lure Higuain to the premier league but the transfer money demanded always seemed to be too much for their liking. If one comes to think of it, not many would disagree with Arsene Wenger’s viewpoint. At 28, it would seem like an astronomical fee for a player who is unlikely to improve his game any further, with his high demands choking the club’s finances even more.
So why is it that the Old Lady seems to have gone overboard in getting his signature.
Since 2012, Gonzalo hasn’t been able to fire any of his respective clubs to domestic titles nor has he lit the Champions League on fire with his performances, having only managed 13 goals in 55 appearances. To add further fuel to the fire, he has never lifted a trophy at the International level either despite having played alongside players like Messi, Aguero and Di Maria. In fact, pinpointing his poor performances in finals has become customary over time with him being termed as something of a “bottler” on the international stage. Flashing clear cut chances wide from goal in both the World cup and Copa America finals against Germany and Chile respectively is the reason behind the nickname given to him.
Yet, today he is the world’s third most expensive striker. Why? It’s all about Napoli!
Once unable to find a regular spot at the Bernabeu thanks to fellow French striker, Karim Benzema, his preferred move to Napoli helped reignite a career, from then on, always seemed to be on the rise.
Strong in the air, sturdy in possession and clinical in front of goal with a decent goal conversion is what defined Higuain in his first 2 years at the Stadio San Paolo.
But that was not all.
Then Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri, envisioned him to be an even better player. Pushing the limits even further, Higuain was made to lose weight before the 2015-2016 campaign began and the results were staggering. His pace attribute combined with the other attributes mentioned above, helped him convert into a goal-scoring machine.
After two years of moderate success, an incredible 36 goals in 35 games in his third and final season with the club earned him the golden boot in a division best known for its defensive organisation rather than free-scoring abilities.
Examining the current situation in the transfer market also helps tell us just why Gonzalo’s rates have sky-rocketed. The scarcity of available strikers has been the main reason behind which the side from Naples has been able to extract so much by inserting a humongous buy out clause for its proven Argentinian.
From Anthony Martial, a relatively unproven commodity, costing Manchester United a small fortune to the likes of a 34-year-old free agent in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose wages seem to be astronomical for a man of his age, The Red Devils have done their fair share of gambling. But they aren’t the only ones.
Chelsea have coughed up £33 million for Michy Batshuayi, a striker who till now, has failed to make the starting eleven of the Belgian National team whereas despite his shambolic performances at the Euro’s, Everton seem adamant to let nothing less than £65 million see Romelu Lukaku leave Goodison Park. Check the likes of Robert Lewandowski or Antoine Griezmann, and a simple “Not for Sale” is enough to shut the door. Hence, Napoli have played the smart move and Juventus simply had no choice but to oblige in order to get their number one target.
As for Higuain himself, although this big-money move puts an outrageous amount of pressure on his shoulders, staying at Napoli would have meant an unlikely improvement to his trophy cabinet. However, in the classic black and white stripes, a realistic chance of tasting the prestigious Champions League glory seems evident.
With the likes of Alessandro Del-Piero and David Trezeguet having taken up the responsibilities and proved their worth as world class strikers for the Bianconeri in the past, a price tag of £75.3 million seems to only add more to the infinite expectations which already exist. Having said that, with little or no resources available in terms of strikers in the current market, there seems to be no better option than Gonzalo Higuain.
One can only hope he can continue from where he left off last season, proving why he is the still the best there is when it comes to troubling the opposition’s defence. With him up for grabs, someone had to take the gamble of deciding whether he was worth it or not, and the Bianconeri did just that.
Whether he excels in the black and white stripes or goes down as one of the worst signings in history, only time will tell. As for now, he can enjoy the attention and the love he is getting after having been unveiled as the club’s new number 9.