A good player is a good player, but a good player can be made to look like something he’s not when latched onto a sentence containing the words “Arsenal” and “transfer.” How much of that is true for Gonzalo Higuain, a player who Arsenal are said to be in the hunt for as they look to boost their striking options ahead of next season?
It’s an incredibly strange one at this stage. On paper – and not that there is anything misleading about the player – Higuain is an ideal candidate to come into Arsenal and lead the line. But once again it’s a case of short-term memory from a large portion of the football community.
It’s no real secret that the Argentine forward has struggled this season for Real Madrid. But in all of his difficulties and frustrations, it’s easy to forget that this is a forward who plays for one of the biggest clubs in world football – a position he’s held since he was 19 and whom much of the club’s hierarchy backed in the internal struggle between him and Karim Benzema.
Are Arsenal in a position to turn their noses up at a 25-year-old who has spent all of his time in European football at the Bernabeu? This season, despite a huge drop off in quality from last year, Higuain has still managed 15 league goals from 18 starts.
An issue with the player may be his lack of pace in this Arsenal team, but that doesn’t take away from where he can be an asset. The problems that Higuain has faced this past season seem to be central to the mental battle to become Real Madrid’s obvious No. 1 striker. That wasn’t the case during the season in which Madrid won the league title and Jose Mourinho promised a bigger role to the Argentine in the following campaign. While Higuain did start many of the first few games of this past season, he gradually started to look like he struggling to try and prove himself. He’s missed excellent scoring opportunities on multiple occasions this season, many of which you’d expect a forward for Real Madrid to put away, and yet all the while you fail to be convinced that this is a bad player overall.
To take any credit away from Higuain in Madrid’s title-winning campaign would be an injustice to what he offered. Some of Madrid’s most outstanding games came when he, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo were played at the same time, with a three-man midfield supporting.
A change of scenery is necessary. It was necessary last year when the player was intimating at a move away. Yet for some, this past season has only chipped away at the reputation of a very good footballer. In Arsene Wenger’s team, there would be a coach who has an outstanding track record of getting the best out of extremely talented footballers. With Higuain, the job is half done as all that really needs to be discovered is the player’s sense of confidence and belonging. With Fernando Llorente already going to Juventus and Stevan Jovetic rumoured to be next, you wonder how different the situation for Higuain would be to the one he faced at the Bernabeu.
The easiest thing to do in football is look at the most immediate facts, those that are easiest to reach and don’t require much effort. Much of that equates to a player in Higuain who Arsenal should maybe be happy to look past. But that isn’t the case. For a fee that can certainly be said to be reasonable in the market, Arsenal could land a premier forward with plenty of years at the pinnacle of the European game. Higuain is what Arsenal are looking for, and much of the fear among some supporters is that the club may not find an equal to him if he were to join Juventus this summer – a sense of anxiety that is completely understandable.
For Arsenal, it would be a monumental upgrade to the current squad. At this time, there aren’t too many available to Wenger that are better than Gonzalo Higuain.
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