In recent weeks, Arsenal’s Chief Executive, Ivan Gazidis, has spoken about how the club has become financially capable to compete with the big boys for top talent in world football. He also conducted a Q&A session with the fans, where he gave a listening ear to their thoughts and responded in the manner you would expect from a skilled orator like himself.
Many top European teams have gone through transitional phases this summer as some football managers have found new employers ahead of what will be one hell of a 2013/14 campaign. In the Premier League, the three teams that finished above Arsenal saw their managers depart after last season have fresh, yet familiar blood coming in to replace them.
Mourinho’s departure from Real Madrid has left the club with a decision to make regarding the next manager to challenge Barcelona for the Liga BBVA next season. But with no manager at the helm of affairs in the Bernabeu, transfer business cannot take place as the new man will have to access his squad before making a decision on the players to keep and offload.
Gazidis has stated that the club is targeting players in manager-less clubs and you don’t need any soothsayer to tell you that a player from manager-less Real Madrid is among this lot. At least, the Evening Standard, Daily Mirror and Goal have all published articles linking Real Madrid’s star striker, Gonzalo Higuain, to Arsenal.
Gonzalo Higuain is one of the hottest prospects in the transfer market at the moment. He’s also linked with a move (via the Daily Mirror) to Italian giants, Juventus, despite already completing the signing of Fernando Llorente from Athletic Bilbao.
The prospect of signing Higuain will certainly make Arsenal fans lick their lips in anticipation for what they would herald as a very good signing but some fans have taken the news with a pinch of salt.
Without further ado, here are 10 things you need to know about Arsenal’s potential acquisition.
Perhaps this is the most important thing you need to know about Gonzalo Higuain.
Last season, Higuain faced off with arch-rival, Karim Benzema, for the right to be Real Madrid’s alpha-dog in spearheading the attack. Jose Mourinho’s 4-2-3-1 formation permits the use of only one striker and he favored the French maverick ahead of the Argentine poacher, which yielded in Benzema scoring more goals than Higuain.
After opening the scoring in Real Madrid’s 4-2 win over Osasuna, Higuain waited for the game to be over before dropping a bombshell (via Goal) to the Madrid faithful,
“I feel like my time here has come to an end, I want to go where they show me that I’m really loved.
I need a change of scenery. The decision has been made.
I want to go where I can prove myself really. I have several offers. I hope that [Madrid] do the best for me and for themselves.
I was never given anything here, I always had to fight to the death. I came for €12 million but I think I will sell for more.”
I once described Robin van Persie as a perpetual goalscoring machine of the first kind. I would describe Gonzalo Higuain as a device that delivers at least 20 goals per season with clinical accuracy.
In his past five seasons with Real Madrid, Higuain always surpassed the 20-goal mark (smashed in 29 goals in the 2009/10 season) with the exception of the 2010/11 campaign when he was diagnosed with a herniated lumbar disc that required surgery.
After spending a considerable chunk of the season out recuperating from his successful operation, Higuain returned back to the pitch in stunning fashion by smashing a hat-trick in a 6-3 win over Valencia. He also supplied assists to Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka in the same game.
Higuain’s composure in front of goal is very outstanding and he’s up there with the best finishers in the business today.
According to stats king, Orbinho, Gonzalo Higuain had a chance conversion rate of 43 percent in the 2011/12 season and 32 percent last season (no penalties, Cristiano Ronaldo was going to play them anyway). The chance completion rate for an average Premier League striker is 16 percent.
Higuain smashed in 26 goals in the 2011/12 campaign, which also included his 100th goal for the club in a game against Osasuna in March.
Imagine if it was Higuain that received that late through pass from Santi Cazorla against Sunderland at the Emirates, that late chance against Chelsea at home and the early chance away, Aaron Ramsey’s inch-perfect through ball against Everton at home or that one-on-one away against Newcastle.
We all know how the outcomes would have panned out.
Higuaín is one of only three foreign-born players to have played for Argentina in a FIFA World Cup.
He had initially rejected call-ups from the Argentine National team and France (country of his birth) as he was largely undecided on the nation to represent.
His father, Jorge Higuain, was an uncapped Argentine defender that plied his trade in prolific Argentine outfits like San Lorenzo, Boca Juniors and River Plate. But he then made a move to Stade Brestios in France where he had his son, Gonzalo.
Gonzalo Higuain marked his debut for the Argentine National team with a brace against Guatemala in 2008 and he has gone on to score 20 goals in 32 appearances for the team, making him the 10th highest goalscorer for his nation.
The only player above Higuain in the goalscoring rankings still playing is that wizard, Lionel Messi, that has 32 goals in 81 caps.
However, it would take some stuffing from Higuain to displace the current top three goalscorers for the country, Gabriel Batistuta (56), Hernan Crespo (35) and Diego Maradona (32). There’s still the goalscoring threat of Lionel Messi to contend with.
Higuain's compatriot - Manuel del Potro
For those that don’t know Gonzalo Higuain, he also has a life outside of football.
In his spare time, he likes to play some tennis, and he claims that he’s very good at it.
“I love tennis and would be a good idea to practice given the level that it is in the circuit.
Yes, I would have liked to be a tennis player, but my dream was to be a footballer and I got it.
“It would be great to exchange blows with Rafael Nadal, which I love his delivery, Roger Federer, as well as my fellow compatriots, David Nabaldián and Martin Del Potro” – Gonzalo Higuain
He likes them French!
Jorge Higuain (aged 56) played some competitive football from 1976 to 1992, stamping his authority in the defensive lines of several Argentine clubs in the Apertura.
He began his career in Neuva Chicago before moving to Gimnasia La Plata in 1981. After stints with San Lorenzo and Boca Juniors, Jorge Higuain made a move abroad to Stade Brestois 29 in 1987, the year he gave birth to his son, Gonzalo.
After spending one season with Brest, Jorge and his family relocated back to Argentina, as he was signed by River Plate. This meant that Gonzalo was just 10 months old when he returned to a place he could call home. As a young lad, Higuain played in the youth teams of River Plate before breaking into the first team in 2004, when he was 17.
He played for two more years in River Plate before he was snapped up by Real Madrid.
With a manager like Arsene Wenger known for having a penchant for signing French players, someone should tip him off that Higuain actually has some French roots in him, and he even holds a French passport as well.
This is a player that was stuck at a crossroads on whether to represent France or Argentina. He chose the latter, and has flourished ever since.
Football has really evolved in recent times and one of the traits every player needs to have on a basic level is technique.
Gonzalo Higuain is widely known for his clinical ability in front of goal, but his positioning and off-the-ball movement for a pass is exemplary.
He also possesses a decent amount of pace and his ambidexterity with both feet makes him a very good asset, as he can finish with both feet with consummate ease.
Higuain’s first touch is a key attribute that he uses well to get on the end of somewhat difficult passes from his teammates at times. There are times when the Argentine treats the football like a pet especially when he wants to put it in a position to pull the trigger.
Footballers grab the headlines for their on-the-field skills as well as off the field antics. While a player like Bacary Sagna is known for his ambassadorial positions with Grassroots Soccer, a player like Cristiano Ronaldo is renowned for his escapades with the opposite sex.
Gonzalo Higuain on the other hand, is a sincere man, likes video games, takes a lot of time to relax, enjoys traveling, loves music and he has no folds when talking about people's dreams and their preferences when forced to choose priorities in his life.
Most importantly, places a high priority when dealing with his family and friends,
“For me, family and lifelong friends are the most important thing you have. When I’m with them I forget everything, and I hope to have them always at my side, that’s my dream.
It’s something I can not quit. To the family, because it is my blood, because true friends are treasures to be carefully watched, since they are going to be with you through thick and thin”
A technically-proficient player like Higuain will fit into Arsenal’s fluid. It's an intricate style of football that involves the use of a steady passing play, great off-the-ball movement, the use of a playmaker, the presence of a target man and a patient build-up while frustrating the opposition's defense.
Higuain is a technically adept footballer that is good with the ball at his feet. He knows how to link his teammates up, how to hold up the ball to bring his teammates into the game and he lays assists to his teammates, making him a complete all-around center forward.
It’s more than likely that if bought, Higuain will spearhead Arsenal’s attack alongside Theo Walcott on the right and Lukas Podolski / Santi Cazorla on the left. Arsenal is blessed with a plethora of creative midfielders, so Higuain will feel right at home as he will be odds on to receive those defense-splitting through balls that are like a hot knife cutting butter.
At this point in time, Olivier Giroud is Arsenal’s No. 1 center forward with a style best suited for the target men of world football. He’s very good in linking up play, has a great build to bully opposition defenders and he’s a massive threat in the air, both defensive and offensively.
In his debut campaign with the club, Giroud scored 17 goals in all competitions, as well as creating 12 assists for his teammates. While this may be widely regarded as a success by some margins, Giroud still has his fair share of critics as he failed to step up when the Gunners needed him in critical games against stronger opposition.
While we may have to cut him some slack for trying his possible best to fill van Persie’s shoes, signing a player as renowned as Gonzalo Higuain will be an eye-opener for Giroud, and the competition for first-team places will certainly bring out the best in the Frenchman, as it worked a treat with Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal.
Unlike Giroud that plays like a classic target man, Gonzalo Higuain offers Arsenal a different approach as he’s more like a predator in the box, sniffing out half-chances and through balls before dispatching the ball past the opposition's goalkeeper. This certainly indicates that opposition defenses will have more things to worry about when playing Arsenal.
Arsenal will have to break bank to sign Higuain, so that burden of expectation will spur him to deliver, and there will also be the threat of Giroud to contend with.
The fans have wailed for the Arsenal hierarchy to sign a striker in the molds of Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie. Gonzalo Higuain ticks all those boxes.
At 25, he’s young, his past records speak in volumes and his capture could bring a change in Arsenal’s fortunes, as signing a player of his caliber will make the fans and players believe that the club is ready to challenge for titles this season.