Gonzalo Higuain has always been a contradictory figure. The Argentinian’s bizarre ability to produce world class displays in one game and unbelievable misses in the next has been dividing opinions ever since he moved to Europe in 2007.
The €90m that Juventus paid to lure him away from Napoli two years ago only increased the controversy and media interest surrounding Higuain. If you walk around Turin and ask the locals if Higuain has lived up to that price tag, one thing is certain - you’ll get plenty of contrasting answers.
There are increasing rumours that Juventus are preparing to sell Higuain this summer and, considering he is already on the wrong side of 30, such a move would make sense for the Bianconeri. Il Pipita still commands a hefty price tag, as his transfer value is close to €60m. This is an incredible fee for a player of his age and would boost Juve’s chances of bringing in either Sergej Milinkovic-Savic or even Paul Pogba.
And while those names excite the fans, and selling a 30-year-old player who hasn’t always been convincing enough for such an amount would look like a great piece of business, this would also bring one question - who can replace Higuain?
Throughout the last decade there has been just one certainty surrounding Higuain’s hot and cold nature and that is goals. Plenty of goals. Pipita has just finished one of his less productive seasons in terms of goals and yet finished the campaign with 25 strikes across all competitions. If we take a look at his stats since joining Juventus, we’ll see that the ex-Real Madrid man has amassed the incredible 105 games for the Old Lady, scoring 55 goals and providing 12 assists.
Putting the impressive enough goals and assists aside, Higuain’s endurance during this period has been nothing short of unbelievable, as playing more than 50 games per season shows just how important he has been for this Juventus team. Massimiliano Allegri has been shuffling Juve’s formations, players and positions, but the Number 9 has always been on the team sheet when fit. It is true that there were games in which Higuain looked slow and tired, but isn’t that normal considering the amount he has been playing?
If he leaves, how many pure strikers would be able to match his numbers and feature in so many games? Cristiano Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski, Mauro Icardi, Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez, maybe Sergio Aguero... Really not that many. And how many of them could Juventus realistically get this summer?
Alvaro Morata and Icardi are the names that circulate most often in the media these days, and while the Spaniard has already played for the Bianconeri under Allegri and would be welcomed back by the tifosi, he really does not provide the guarantees that Higuain does and prising him away from Chelsea would be extremely difficult.
When it comes to Icardi, he is probably the only player who is significantly younger than Higuain, but is already beating these goalscoring stats. However, it is extremely unlikely that Inter would allow their captain to join their arch rivals, especially after the Nerazzurri secured their place in next season’s Champions League.
Considering all this, Juventus need to be extremely careful thinking about selling their No 9 this summer. It is true that this is probably the Old Lady’s last chance of getting a significant transfer fee for Higuain, but considering the team’s ambitions, they cannot afford to sell the Argentinian without finding a suitable replacement.
Bringing in a top quality midfielder is a must, but if Juve want to launch another serious assault on the Champions League, they need an extraordinary striker.