Oh what a shock it was… There were rumours about ongoing negotiations between Gonzalo Higuain and Juventus, with the Bianconeri expected to make a formal offer to Napoli. But with only Tuttosport breaking the news, it was a game of wait-and-see before jumping to conclusions.
Later on, Sky Italia’s Gianluca Di Marzio confirmed that Juve had struck a personal deal with the 28-year-old striker, offering him a four-year deal that will net Higuain €7.5m per year, making him the best-paid player among the Italian champions. The Argentine goal-getter thereby confirmed his intention to leave Napoli after scoring a record 36 goals in Serie A last season.
But now the most difficult part of Juve’s assault begins: trying to convince the Partenopei, one of the club’s biggest rivals, to sell their star player. There’s some debate on Higuain’s €94m release clause. Is it still valid or not? La Gazzetta and CalcioNapoli24 say it expired on June 30, while Di Marzio and Calciomercato claim it hasn’t and can be paid in two instalments of €47m.
Yes or no, it doesn’t really matter. Higuain has shocked the peninsula by agreeing to join Juventus from Napoli, the team that battled them the longest last season. After securing the services of Miralem Pjanic from AS Roma, the Old Lady are establishing themselves as the only true top club in Serie A. The only team that can actually think about completing such transfers.
Even if Higuain doesn’t end up playing in Turin, Juventus still won the war. With Inter and Milan busy trying to find a way to finish in the top three, Napoli and Roma were the Bianconeri’s biggest domestic rivals. Even with the Giallorossi making some quality moves on the transfer market, they still lost their most valuable player to Juve.
Meanwhile, the Partenopei are primed to lose the one player that kept them in the Scudetto race for months. Even if they refuse to sell him to the team that beat them to it, the chances of Higuain returning to Napoli are diminishing every day. Meaning, in a span of just a few weeks, Juventus have hit both Roma and Napoli with a massive strike.
Juventus have shown not only Serie A, but the whole football world, that they are back in business. Due to a combination of smart management, solid investments and success on the pitch, the Bianconeri are once again ready to battle anyone in Europe, football wise and financially. Just look at how they are withstanding huge offers for Leonardo Bonucci and Paul Pogba. This should send a message to all Serie A clubs that a smart financial policy is the basic recipe for success.
And what if Juventus are able to land Higuain despite the odds being against them? Some say it’s crazy to pay such a huge transfer fee for a guy who’s about to turn 29 in December. Others say Juve will have to give up too much talent in addition to the cash in order to get him.
Whether the Old Lady are paying the release clause in two instalments or adding Roberto Pereyra and Simone Zaza to lower the fee, Higuain makes their squad better. Football players are at their physical peak between ages 27 and 32, meaning the Argentine has three quality years ahead of him.
Just look at how Zlatan Ibrahimovic (34) and Cristiano Ronaldo (31) once again dominated last season. On top of that, Higuain hasn’t missed any game due to injury the past two seasons. So, you know what you are getting from him, just like Juventus knew what they were getting when they spent more than €80m on 28-year-old Pavel Nedved and 29-year-old Lilian Thuram in 2001.
At a time when huge fees are paid on potential, the Bianconeri are more than willing to pay for experience. Their window to finally win another Champions League trophy has never been so wide open, so Juve want to take their chances. And who can blame them? If Higuain joins, the Old Lady are primed for a couple of huge seasons. If he doesn’t, they still are. In the end, that’s the biggest story.