Connect in the back of the net

Alvaro Morata is set to sign a five-year contract with Real Madrid. Arsenal have pulled out of the race for Alexandre Lacazette because of Olympique Lyonnais’ ridiculous valuation. Romelu Lukaku’s asking price and the doubts over his talent are certain to put off any potential deal for him. Lionel Messi is not available.

That leaves Arsenal with only Gonzalo Higuain to pursue; in other words, the scenario calls for the British tabloids to link him with the London club until they track down another top-class they can link Arsenal with.

Arsene Wenger’s admiration for the Argentine striker needs no introduction, given his efforts to sign him three seasons ago when he left Real Madrid.

The striker’s stocks have since skyrocketed so much so that Napoli have resigned to losing Higuain, for a transfer fee that would make him the third most expensive signing in football history.

Whether he can justify such ludicrous transfer fee is uncertain, but given the recent inflation in the market, no transfer fee is justifiable.

However, his recent accomplishments — in his three seasons at Stadio Sao Paolo, he has been directly involved in almost 40 goals on an average — do mean he will command a fee not a lot of clubs can afford.


Playing style and resurgence

The 28-year-old is one of the lasts of a dying breed of conventional strikers. Known for his predatory instincts inside the 18-yard-box, Higuain has also perfected one certain aspect of the game the Arsenal faithful cherish drooling over – holding the play up.

Linking up with the creators comes so naturally to him whilst his ability to play with his back to the goal uplifts the subtlety of the team’s build-up.

Forced to play second fiddle to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the most of his top-level playing career, the then-psychologically wrecked Higuain relished joining Napoli, where fans were so excited about his arrival that they even touted him to emulate the success of former Napoli striker and his compatriot, Diego Maradona.

The frustrated and indifferent soul came to life under Rafael Benitez.

However, it was not until the appointment of Maurizio Sarri, did he emerge an elite talent, even attracting interest from Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain.

With the manager ditching Napoli’s 4-3-1-2 setup in favour of 4-3-3, the former Real Madrid became the focal point of happenings. With the aid of Marek Hamsik, Lorenzo Insigne, and Jose Callejon, Higuain set Serie A alight, notching 36 goals in 35 league starts last season.

The Emirates Stadium club have always lacked a striker, who boasts Higuain’s attributes.

Besides possessing almost every Giroud’s trait, he is adept at searching for pockets of space, and operating ahead of Mesut Ozil — he also formed an intimidating partnership with the German during his Primeira Division days — should make him a strong contender for Premier League’s Golden Boot.

In addition, he makes perfect runs in behind; he also oozes confidence in front of the goal.

Should Higuain arrive, he will walk into the team, thereby making €15 million French striker a pleasant memory.


Is Arsenal’s number 12 ‘sacrificable’?

Since his arrival from then-Ligue 1 champions Montpellier, Arsenal’s soon-to-be 30-year-old centre-forward has been a consistent fixture in the first team.

Though his detractors lambast him for not being of ‘the Arsenal quality’, he has averaged almost 21 goals per season.

Despite the irregularity of his goals — he had a 15-match goal-barren run in the Premier League last season — his end-of-the-season numbers has always been convincing.

However, merely enjoying a convincing season should not be even the minimum requirement at a big club like Arsenal as at least one striker from the other Premier League elites enjoys a commendable season every year.

The Arsenal supporters turned on club legend Thierry Henry for pointing out that his former club needed a world-class striker to challenge for the title; although many would point at Arsenal’s injury record for their last season’s slump, a world-class striker would definitely have at least managed to keep them in the title picture during the slump.


Giroud… not talented enough

Make no mistake, Giroud is a good striker, but he has not proved talented enough to lead Arsenal to the title.

The Arsenal manager will certainly agree to have both strikers at his disposal, but it is certain and in line with the latest Arsenal odds that he will likely never be in that position unless he decides to part ways with almost £80 million.

From what the world has seen of him, he will choose not to do that as he has been reported to be on the lookout for a defender simultaneously.

Sending the first-choice striker of three seasons the other way in order to secure the services of a one-goal-a-game striker can be mooted as a gamble, but it has an astronomical probability of becoming a wise decision.

Sometimes, you need to give away two infertile birds you have in your hand to capture the one in the bush that is about to lay eggs.


Written by Praveen Paramasivam

Follow Praveen on Twitter @49Praveen

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