Transfer Analysis: Gonzalo Higuain to Chelsea
Chelsea have confirmed the signing of Gonzalo Higuain on loan until the end of the 2018-19 season. Juventus have now activated their recall clause to bring back Higuain from AC Milan to allow the 31-year-old to join the Premier League club. Juventus' official website revealed that the deal can be extended by another 12 months for a fee around £16m, while also inserting an option to buy for £31m.
The striker gets reunited with his former boss Maurizio Sarri with whom he shined in the fabled 2015-16 season at Napoli in which he scored a massive 36 goals in the Serie A averaging more than one goal per game. He has admitted he likes Sarri and it was the season he enjoyed football the most.
Higuain said this to Chelsea's official website on the deal being completed:
"When the opportunity to join Chelsea presented itself I had to take it. It’s a team I’ve always liked that has a lot of history, a wonderful stadium and they play in the Premier League, a league I’ve always wanted to play in."
One thing is inevitable- he will score a ridiculous amount of goals. And statistics can attest it. Since his debut in 2007, only four players (Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Edinson Cavani and Zlatan Ibrahimovic) have scored more goals than him.
Its something Chelsea's strikers Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata are under constant criticism for not doing. A recent 2-0 loss against city rivals, Arsenal depicts it. They were in a clear lack of a focal point in the attack.
Wingers Pedro and Willian were clueless in the final third and their individual errors cost them the game. Eden Hazard also looking out of depth in the false nine role. Strikers Morata and Giroud showed a lack of personality of finding the back of the net.
In short, The Blues are devoid of goals. This transfer is hopeful of leasing a new life at Stamford Bridge and develop a voracious appetite for goals.
Most importantly, he understands Sarriball and possesses qualities of a number nine who can imitate it. His positioning and one-touch layoffs are sublime. The Argentine makes intelligent vertical and diagonal runs into the penalty area. His quick passing also gives wingers a quick way of penetrating the defence by running the channels.
Sarri will set up a classic 4-3-3 with Hazard on the left, Gonzalo up top and Pedro/Callum Hudson Odoi on the right. This will allow Hazard to do what he does the best- pick the ball in the midfield, dribble around and create. While the wingers will bring free-flowing pace and flair to the attack, Higuain's runs will bring unpredictability. A good ball in the box and he knows how to put it past the net.
One of his understated qualities is to shield the ball, lure an opposition press and draw defenders out of their position with a couple of quick passes. At Juventus, Paulo Dybala and Douglas Costa took the advantage of this trait as it used to leave a huge space in the opposition's backline which would create a shooting chance.
On the contrary, he can even shift the opposition backline to sit deep which will create a no.10 area for Hazard to flourish.
On the negative side, opinions can gather that he is too old for Premier League and doesn't have fuel in his tank. This was a logical theory when Zlatan came to Manchester United, however, Higuain is a lot younger. And its not like Sarriball would not work smoothly with a striker like him.
The other tangible problem can be his low indulgence in the defensive departments. He is not often seen is the first line of defence- pressing the opposition defenders. In the Premier League, it can be a deal-breaker.
Moreover, this Serie A season, Higuain has only scored six goals from 15 appearances for AC Milan while youngster Patrick Cutrone has looked much better than the Argentinian. He is surely low on confidence but given his history with the Italian manager and his habit of crafting misfits, this can be dodged too.
All in all, Higuain is entering his twilight years now. With Chelsea struggling to fight for the top four, Sarri can make use of him. The former Real Madrid man has done that in the past too. There is no qualm in it. He will be a massive boost for the Blues to push them in important games and yield sweet results. In the honeymoon period, this could be the match made in heaven.