Before the end of the calendar year, Gonzalo Higuain will be 31 years old. Because he will be 31 years old, the general perception will be that his prime as a footballer will be that much closer to being over. And when you’ve spent €90 million on somebody like Juventus did with Higuain two summers ago, the fact that one’s window might be closing holds a certain amount of weight — and that’s not meant as any kind of chubby Pipita joke.
Depending on which Italian media outlet you read over the past few weeks, Higuain’s status at Juventus could very well be up in the air come the end of Argentina’s run at the World Cup.
And over the last few weeks, it’s not like the words of both the player or the management have convinced you that Higuain’s staying right where he is come the start of the brand new Serie A season.
First, Higuain himself:
“I have a contract with Juventus and no-one has told me any different. I’m very calm, my soul remains in Turin for now.”
From Beppe Marotta:
“Juventus players are considered unsellable, up until the moment they ask to be sold. In the case of Higuain, even if he’s at the World Cup, we’ve received no such request.”
From Max Allegri:
“I hope Pipita stays, we have to wait for the World Cup. I don’t know if an offer will come in, then the strength of Juventus is to satisfy those who want to leave.”
These three are the most important players in Higuain’s future with Juventus. Higuain himself probably gave the most convincing quote when it comes to his future, although there was also the fact that he wants to play in the Premier League someday, which means that day is likely going to be soon based on the fact he’s turning 31 in December.
The days of Juventus getting close to what they paid for Higuain are likely over. And it’s not like getting close to the €90 million transfer fee they forked over to Napoli was even going to be possible because of what his release clause was. As much as the Italian press might be saying that Juventus could get upwards of €63 million for him, trying to determine what a 30-year-old striker like Higuain is worth depends more on the market more than anything.
But that doesn’t mean he couldn’t move on.
As Marotta always says, it’s the will of the player to say if he wants to stay. Arturo Vidal didn’t want to stay at Juventus, so he was sold. Leonardo Bonucci and Dani Alves didn’t want to stay, so they were shown the exit door last summer. As much as it might not be a very popular approach, Marotta and the rest of Juve’s current management team have never been a group to force a player to stay at Juventus against his will.
The quote from Higuain above shows that, for the time being, it doesn’t sound like he has the intentions of leaving this summer.
But, as we know, that all can change.
And there’s always going to the possibility of it seeing as he’s now on the other end of 30.
It was always going to be near-impossible for Higuain to live up to the transfer fee that Juventus paid. Even if he scored 30 goals in Serie A each season he wore bianconero, if there was no Champions League trophy that came along with Higuain’s tenure in Turin, then there might be some kind of empty feeling based on the fact that he was signed to be the big-time scorer in big-time games.
So what if he wants to leave?
That’s hard to say since there’s no immediate kind of replacement not named Mario Mandzukic currently on the roster. (No, it’s not Moise Kean Time just yet, folks. At least not on a full-time basis, that is.)
We’ve seen Higuain go from out-and-out goal scorer to one that sacrifices goal-scoring statistics for the good of the team. That doesn’t mean he’s been bad, of course. When you score 23 goals in all competitions, that’s something that we haven’t seen many Juventus players do since the return from Serie B.
The thing is, outside of what Higuain has said in recent weeks, there’s nothing other than Italian media gossip suggesting that this summer could be the one that sees Juve and their most recent No. 9 go their separate ways.
Outside of a few select strikers being added to the roster, Juventus are a better team with Higuain than without him the way things are currently constructed. I don’t want to see Higuain go. I don’t think, at the true depth of it, Juventus don’t want to see Higuain go right now because they still have aspirations of doing big things in multiple competitions.
But if things change, then this summer could become a whole lot more interesting than they were a few days or weeks ago. You know, kinda in the same way when Juventus went about signing Higuain a few years ago — just like there was interest, there was a deal and then Pipa himself was being mobbed in Turin when he underwent his medicals.