Juventus and Napoli bought two of Europe’s most wanted strikers, but Dave Taylor asks who got the best deal.
This summer Italy has welcomed several superstars to Serie A with perhaps the two most eye-catching deals involving Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain. Juventus paid Manchester City £8m plus a further £5m in performance-related bonuses for 29-year-old Tevez, while Napoli gave Real Madrid a record £32m for 26-year-old Higuain.
Naturally there is fierce debate over who got the best deal, yet legendary Argentinean hitman Hernan Crespo feels that it’s Italian football itself that has won out. “For me the deals are a sign that things are returning to the glory days, when Serie A was at the top of European football,” insisted the former Parma, Lazio, Inter and Milan striker. “It is a fascinating challenge for them both. Pipita is a hitman, but can also help players like Marek Hamsik, Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Maria Callejon score more goals too. Certainly I am not surprised that he preferred Napoli to Arsenal. Meanwhile Tevez has become a more complete and organised player. I saw him recently and he also seemed more mature and has that creative streak that allows him to develop other things.”
Both clubs have sent out massive messages of intent by bringing the pair to the peninsula and it will be intriguing to see who makes the biggest impact.
Certainly Tevez will add much-needed firepower to the Old Lady’s forward line and he should also prove a potent foil for Fernando Llorente. Undoubtedly he has caused problems for his previous clubs, but there is absolutely no doubting his footballing abilities. Juve were looking for a proven, world-class striker for a reasonable price and with 58 goals in 110 league games for City, they certainly got one.
Yet Carlito brings more than just goals and has already impressed Coach Antonio Conte in pre-season. “He’s extraordinary,” said the Juve boss. “He’s a great professional, a splendid person, always willing and working exceptionally well.” Certainly in the past he has shown he is a hard worker and with his goals, energy and intelligence, if Juve can tame the Apache they have got themselves a real chief. All the same they did target Higuain first, but as they say - when the divine is unattainable, a fallen angel will suffice.
Señor Gonzalo is a little more understated both on and off the field, but like Tevez was not always first choice last season. His 16 goals plus five assists in 19 starts and nine sub appearances suggests that given game time he should prove a regular and consistent goal scorer.
If compared with the departed Edinson Cavani, Higuain measures up very well, scoring 107 goals in 190 appearances in La Liga, one every 112 minutes, plus 45 assists. Cavani meanwhile scored 110 goals in 206 appearances, one every 149 minutes with 27 assists yet played an extra 5,000 minutes. Certainly Coach Rafa Benitez knows what he is getting. “He’s a great player and it was an easy decision for me to sign him. I am very happy to have him,” emphasised the Spaniard.
Yet as goals win games, by looking at both Pipita’s and Carlito’s contributions we can perhaps spread a little more light on who will turn out to be the best buy.
Last season Higuain needed an average 3.5 shots to score 16 goals, while Tevez took almost three times as many shots (9.5) to score 11. However, it must be taken into consideration that he played more games in a deeper second striker/attacking midfield role, which obviously limited his chances of shooting. Another significant stat is that Tevez clocked up 600 more minutes on the pitch than Higuain.
Of course you can use statistics like drunks use lamp-posts, more for support than illumination. However, if these recent figures prove anything, they show that Higuain is perhaps the more clinical striker, yet if his fee is taken into consideration then who knows? Perhaps the question should not be about who made the best deal but how much both players can add to Serie A and for that only time will tell.