Over the past 24 hours or so, Juventus have been linked with a transfer coup of sorts. Serie A’s ‘Il Capocannoniere’ from last season, Gonzalo Higuain, is being touted for a shock move from Napoli to the Bianconeri.
We take a look here at the player, and discuss three reasons why Juventus should indeed look at signing the 29-year-old Argentinian striker.
Weakens Juventus’ closest Serie A rivals
This is a move patented by Bayern Munich over the years. The German giants have always been a big club, but have systematically gone about cutting down any opponents who have come even close to approaching them season after season by cherry-picking the best talent the Bundesliga has to offer. Just over the last decade or so, here is the list of players they’ve captured: Manuel Neuer (Schalke); Robert Lewandoski, Mario Gotze, Mats Hummels (all from Borussia Dortmund); Dante (Borussia Moenchengladbach); Michael Ballack, Ze Roberto (Bayer Leverkusen); Miroslav Klose (Werder Bremen).
The capture of Miralem Pjanic this offseason weakens AS Roma, and as Napoli are Juventus’ next closest rivals, they should be the next target. Stealing away their figurehead and the player that they hung their Scudetto hopes on last season would be a move akin to getting ‘The Divine Ponytail’ Roberto Baggio away from Fiorentina many years ago.
The management of Juventus have shown over the decades that they are not afraid to sign older players with experience, even if they are entering the latter stages of their contracts. This move reaffirms that belief.
A proven finisher to replace Álvaro Morata
Juventus are yet to sign a direct replacement for Morata. Pairing Higuain with Paulo Dybala is a 1-2 punch that should knock the socks off any Serie A opponent. They are likely to become Argentina’s front pairing in coming years, too, which will only help their chemistry together. Higuain and Dybala were the top two scorers in Serie A last season, with 55 goals between them — only one team outside the top three in the entire League scored more than that. Higuain also has 30 goals in 63 appearances for the Argentina national squad.
Then there’s the Champions League. This coming season is widely expected to be all about the UCL, an attempt to give longtime goalkeeper and club legend Gianluigi Buffon the ‘Big Ears.’ It’s no surprise that it’s looking like Juve are going all out to make this dream come true for San Gigi.
In 2015-16 Europa, Napoli chose to save Higuain’s legs for the Scudetto. He started two games, appeared as a sub in three, and scored two goals. In 2014-15 Europa, he had seven goals in 14 appearances. Morata’s seven goals in 20 in Champions League appearances will be hard to match, especially since most of them came at key moments, a definite weakness in Higuain’s arsenal where he seems to disappear when needed the most.
Juventus don’t need to sell Paul Pogba to get Higuain
This is another key point for this team. If Juve were planning on selling Pogba, then they would be looking at getting one or two midfielders to replace him, not a striker. As has been widely reported in the media, the Bianconeri have the funding to get Higuain after Morata's €30 million, Mario Lemina's €15 million and Rolando Mandragora's €10 million (for a total of €55m). Throwing in Roberto Pereyra to sweeten the pot means Juve can get the Argentinian striker for a pretty reasonable sum without mortgaging the future either by losing any young core members.
An exchange offer with Pereyra, Simone Zaza, Stefano Sturaro and Daniele Rugani in the deal has also been mentioned, but it’s also being reported that Juve are very reluctant to let Rugani leave. If the player exchange plus cash doesn’t work out though, Juventus are said to be ready to activate the €94 million release clause for the player and there is very little Napoli can do about it.
Transfer wizard and General Director Beppe Marotta has often been quoted saying that money is not an issue, and that if the management are convinced by a player and his ability, they will do whatever it takes to get him.