Chelsea officially confirmed the signing of striker Gonzalo Higuain on loan until the end of the season from Serie A giants Juventus on January 23rd.
The Blues are certainly in need of a new goalscorer, as the likes of Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud have failed to produce the required amounts of end product so far this season.
Higuain has been a prolific striker throughout his career, but the 31-year-old struggled during a loan stint with AC Milan. The 75-cap Argentina international is now playing in the Premier League for the first time in his career with plenty of responsibility to deliver at Stamford Bridge weighing on his shoulders.
After drawing blanks against Sheffield Wednesday and Bournemouth, Football FanCast’s Will Jones and Christy Malyan debate for and against the Argentine striker proving to be the final piece in the Chelsea jigsaw…
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Higuain certainly hasn’t been at his best in recent months and age looks to be catching up with him a little bit. He may have lost a yard of pace, but he still retains the capacity to score plenty of goals.
Primarily, it is a confidence issue currently afflicting Higuain. He doesn’t look assured in his finishing and his movement has been uncharacteristically indecisive lately.
However, if there is one manager who can coax the best out of Higuain it is Maurizio Sarri. In Higuain and Sarri’s shared time at Napoli, during the 2015/16 campaign, the forward racked up 36 goals in just 35 Series A appearances.
If Sarri can get Higuain back to anything even close to that level then this will be a good deal for Chelsea, giving them what they’ve lacked all season in a reliable goalscorer.
When a team isn’t scoring goals, it’s easy to blame the centre-forwards and admittedly, Chelsea’s options during the first half of the season just weren’t at the same level as the rest of their top six rivals.
But upgrading the level of strike prowess at the tip of the attack only does so much. The fact is, Chelsea simply don’t get enough balls into the box – whether they’re crosses or through passes in behind – for whoever the front-man is to take advantage.
No doubt, pushing Hazard back into his favoured position will certainly help in that regard – he’s one of the best creators in the world. The fundamental issue, however, is the limited offensive instincts in Chelsea’s midfield and the sideways nature of Sarri’s setup. On average, N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic – Chelsea’s first-choice engine room trio – have produced just 2.2 shots and 2.9 key passes per match between them this season in the Premier League.
Until Chelsea begin to make more opportunities and better opportunities for their centre-forwards – Morata and Giroud managed just 57 efforts at goal throughout the first 23 Premier League matches of the season – we won’t see big improvements. All Higuain can do is be a bit more clinical than his predecessors.