The winter rumour mill has gone into overdrive with one name at the forefront: Gonzalo Higuain.
Having spent the majority of the summer season making it publicly known they were searching for an elite forward, Milan ultimately signed the Argentine on a year-long loan from Juventus that cost €18m. The Rossoneri were dealt setback after setback in their quest, with former player Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the first to turn down the Diavolo’s advances, while Monaco skipper Radamel Falcao chose to remain in France. Meanwhile, Torino captain Andrea Belotti was considered, but his loss of form and injury woes cooled Milan’s interest.
Step forward Higuain. The ex-Napoli hotshot was the victim of Cristiano Ronaldo’s astonishing transfer from Real Madrid, a deal which Milan helped facilitate as they took the Argentine off the Bianconeri wage bill in their desperate bid to sign a Number 9.
While Higuain was harshly cast aside by his parent club, and begrudgingly approved the move to San Siro, the expectation was he would still have a productive campaign. For all his critics, the forward has consistently been a guarantee of 20+ goals a term and while they had problems in other areas of the pitch, this was a real coup for Milan to land a striker with such pedigree.
Unfortunately, for both the 31-year-old and club, the move has gone horribly wrong. A record of eight strikes from 20 appearances isn’t the worst return, but the warning signs have been visible ever since Max Allegri’s men visited Milan in mid-November.
A mild-mannered and calm character, Higuain saw the red mist and received his marching orders, firstly fouling former team-mate Medhi Benatia, then berating the referee and earning a second yellow. This was all after the early drama of missing a penalty.
Higuain has not been the same since, netting just once from 10 games.
Boss Gennaro Gattuso has, for the most part, defended the attacker, but is aware of this desire to cut his spell short and it speaks volumes that the Diavolo legend has made little effort to dissuade him.
The South American knows he’s in demand. Following Maurizio Sarri’s appointment at Chelsea last July, it was widely reported Higuain was top of the Italian’s shopping list. The move of course failed to materialise, but both men appear likely to get their wish of linking up again due to the Blues’ barren form in front of goal.
Chelsea sit in fourth place in the Premier League, but this is mainly due to the brilliance of Eden Hazard, and the Belgian is unable to bail the Londoners out singlehandedly on a weekly basis. Leading forward Alvaro Morata can’t handle the goalscoring burden, while deputy Olivier Giroud is out of favour with Sarri, and both have flattered to deceive.
Enter Higuain, who has the upmost respect for Sarri and vice-versa. The former banker was given credit by the South American in 2016, as the hotshot hit a whopping 36 Serie A goals, breaking a 69-year record in the process.
If Higuain does end up at the Bridge, Milan do have options. Either back youngster Patrick Cutrone, an Italy international, to see out the remaining four months or go all out for Timo Werner with the Rossoneri able to offer the German top billing and an attractive salary.
With respect to current club RB Leipzig, Werner would likely jump at the chance if Milan made their move, but much depends on shipping out Higuain in a transfer that would suit Milan, Sarri and the crisis-hit Argentine.