Poor Gonzalo Higuain. He’s the guy we all feel sorry for, the guy struck by lightning twice. He had the chance to win the World Cup for Argentina in 2014. In the Maracana no less, the Argentinian invasion of the Brazilian homeland, the raiders in the temple. But he fluffed his lines.
For a year it played on his mind. He had an up and down season for Napoli in the meantime. Personally he did well, 29 goals in all competitions. But Rafael Benitez’s side failed to make it into the Champions League, knocked out in the play-off, and then failed to make it back into the competition through their league position this season, finishing fourth.
And then lightning struck our poor, feckless unfortunate for a second time. Gonzalo missed another chance to land his country a major international trophy as he missed a sitter in the Copa America final against Chile. Yet again the Albiceleste were the invading pillagers, hoping to beat Chile right in their own back yard. But Higuain once again stepped right into the dog-do. That miss under pressure is becoming an alarming trope in the career of such a wonderful striker.
But no matter. Onwards and upwards. Rafael Benitez has shown that you can have a disappointing season with Napoli and still move onto better things – incidentally, his agent is Charles Manson – so maybe we’ll see Higuain depart the San Paolo in Naples for pastures new in the Premier League.
And if he does, where should he go?
So assuming poor Gonzalo wants to exorcise his ghosts in England, and assuming all three can offer him the wage he desires, which club should he choose?
You’d bet that he’d be a starter at all three. He’s a world class striker and more than that he has the profile for the Premier League. All big and burly and powerful. He’s a classy finisher with an eye for goal, and luckily for our trio of Premier League suitors there’s no big international final in sight.
And all three are making waves in the transfer market already this summer.
Arsenal look to be well on track with their squad, with perhaps only a defensive midfielder needed for a full-on assault on the title. Maybe Coquelin will be trusted to do it himself, but another strong midfield presence is surely needed. And then a real world class striker like Higuain would really push them on. Giroud is good, but Higuain and Giroud is much better!
As for Liverpool, they’ve brought in quite a few signings, and they look like good ones. But Ings and Milner, even Firmino… they don’t look like signings to bring the team much further than their current level, they look like great squad players who’ll give the side a bite, a work rate and a little bit of extra in terms of man-power. Admirable things no doubt, but when you’ve already got that adding some pizzazz and Hollywood sexiness to your team is next. Higuain can do that very well indeed. Ok, he’s not exactly Brigitte Bardot, but you get what I mean.
And then there’s Manchester United. Deprived of Falcao, Van Persie and probable Chicharito too next season, United probably need a striker. And Van Gaal might not necessarily want to use one regularly. After all, Rooney can do that job, but he’s not really a ‘number 9’. Neither would someone like Thomas Muller fit that bill. Though both would surely score goals.
Surely if you’re going to play false 9 – especially in the Premier League where teams are powerful and will take no prisoners – you need a number 9 as a backup. Spending upwards of £60m on ‘backup’ is utter madness, but if any team is going to do it this summer it’s Manchester United. Still, I can’t really see Higuain as backup in any team. If they sign him they’ll play him. It’ll just add to Van Gaal’s options and play into his new ‘power and technique’ fad which has seen him buy the likes of Schweinsteiger and Schneiderlin.
If it were me, I’d choose Arsenal. Simply because they look more like the finished article. United are making waves and they look like they’ll be close to challenging next season, but you just don’t know. They’ve bought quite a few players and Van Gaal is sure to want them to play a certain way. It’s an exciting time, but there’s just no guarantee it’s going to come off. It’s a similar story with Liverpool – lots of new faces and plenty of excitement, but a bad start and the wheels can come off even before the first bend.
It just looks like a safer bet to join Arsenal, and if he does he’ll be one of the final pieces of the jigsaw.
But that doesn’t mean it’s the best option. Nor do we, on the outside looking in, have any indication that any of these clubs are preparing a serious bid for Higuain. But the talk certainly is hotting up. And if all are interested then all have a chance of landing him. All that remains to be seen is which route he chooses.