And here we thought last summer was one where Juventus started to spend a little more than usual in an attempt to build a squad capable of competing with the European heavyweights. This summer has been another step or two forward in that direction, with money being thrown around like few times we've seen in the last decade or two.
The biggest signing of them all is that of striker Gonzalo Higuain, who arrived for €90 million after Juventus activated his release clause to the ire of many Napoli fans both in Italy and abroad.
Higuain arrives at Juventus not only as the most expensive player ever brought in during the club's illustrious history, but also after a year in which he lit Serie A absolutely on fire. As great as Paulo Dybala's 2015-16 season was, Higuain's was just that much better. His 36 goals accounted for nearly half of Napoli's goal tally was the first time a Serie A striker scored over 30 goals since Luca Toni was with Fiorentina a decade ago.
Higuain's arrival begged the obvious question that needed to be addressed in a post...
What do you think of the signing?
Because of that simple and obvious question, we bring you another edition of the BWRAO Roundtable. This time we discuss Mr. Gonzalo Higuain. Not covered, at least for now, was what Higuain was up to on his post-Copa America holiday. (Feasting on some good food, probably.)
The move reeks of Juventus gambling it all on getting that elusive Champions League trophy. I am glad we didn't have to give up any of the young and upcoming players for Higuain. Of course, if Juve do anything less than win the 'Big Ears' then the haters are going to love gloating and piling on the misery.
As for the player himself, for someone who has famously 'choked' in the past when the pressure is on, he's going to have to get over that sword of Damocles that is going to hang over his head for the rest of his Bianconeri career as soon as he steps on the turf, because every move he makes will be under a €90 million spotlight.
The million dollar question. First things first, yes, I'm thrilled by this signing. Looking at the year gone by, I think the place we struggle most is being ruthless in front of goal. Higuain adds a killer touch in the final third that Mandzukic, despite his brilliant hold up play, and even Morata, just couldn't provide. As for the choker remarks and whatnot, I think our biggest issue is "getting past the minnows," more than facing the giants.
With someone like Higuain, you can be sure the Sevilla and Borussia Monchengladbach games would have gone differently. That's where he will truly make a difference. And who knows, a striker who's peaking — maybe being around winners like Gigi Buffon, BBC, Dani Alves, etc., will bring out the best in him in the big games, too.
The fee is the only real question mark. I guess the on-field success will prove Marotta and Paratici either right or wrong in their assessment. Here's hoping that rumor about Exor stepping in and giving us a financial boost is true!
I think Higuain is the first true striker we've had since David Trezeguet. He is a clinical finisher and someone who should be welcomed at Juventus with open arms. His partnership with Dybala will hopefully be something special and will contribute many years of joy for us. It will be interesting to see how Allegri manages the game time between Dybala, Higuain, Mandzukic, Pjaca (and possibly Zaza). The boss knows best, and I'm sure he will manage it perfectly.
The price tag is hefty and will be mentioned continuously if he doesn't preform for Juve — especially on Tuesdays/ Wednesday nights. If he does manage to bag 20-plus goals and helps Juventus attain its seasonal objectives, the price tag will be a long forgotten memory. Remember the price Real played for Gareth Bale? Beaten down and dissected countless times throughout his first season; now with Bale owns two Champions League medals and questions have completely disappeared.
What's most important is that we don't dwell on Higuain's achievements while at Napoli, it will not be a colossal failure if he doesn't score 36 goals in Serie A this year. Remember this is Juventus. He is not required to be THE guy on this team and I think that will play into Higuain's favor.
The price tag was obviously ridiculous, and on its own it seems difficult to justify from a business perspective. However, I think it's fair to say that this is what the team's transfer strategy over the past few years has led to. Juventus has spent a good number of years finding gems on free transfers like Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba, Kingsley Coman and Fernando Llorente; not to mention bargain buys like Andrea Barzagli, Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez.
Savviness in the transfer market put us right on the edge of being on par with the likes of Bayern, Real, and Barcelona. Taking that last step by, yes, overpaying for one player seems perfectly acceptable to me.
From a football perspective, I can't find much to really complain about. He's not the youngest, but he compliments Dybala perfectly, and he's proved he can score like nobody else in Serie A. I'd keep an eye on the fact that we're replacing Morata, who has developed a reputation for scoring in big games, with Higuain who has highlight reels of just his finals misses. That said, he's one of the best strikers in the world and I think fans should be very happy to have him.
I wrote an article arguing against signing Gonzalo Higuain last month. In summary, considering his age and propensity to buckle under pressure, I thought that he was not worth the money paid to sign him. While we can't deny that potentially he makes us way more dangerous up front, but was he really worth it?
Also, how will he fit in? Higuain is usually at his best playing as a lone striker, while Juventus generally plays with two up front. Either we shoehorn him into a system that's not using him as his best, or switch systems to accommodate him to get the best out of him. At 28 years old, and costing that much, there isn't much time for Higuain to have to settle in. He'll be expected to light it up from day one.
Plus with the added pressure of that price tag over his head, well we know how "well" he does under pressure.
Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala have already struck up a classic big man-little man strike partnership and should ideally be the first choice partnership going forward. I'm not upset that we signed Higuain, I just think that is wasn't very necessary. But he's here, and here's to hoping he can replicate his form from last season and take us to where we want to go this season.