Arsenal Transfer News: Gonzalo Higuain Demanded by Arsene Wenger, Top Rumours

James DudkoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2016

Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain challenges the ball with Juventus' Paul Pogba during a Serie A soccer match between Juventus and Napoli at the Juventus stadium, in Turin, Italy, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/ Massimo Pinca)
Massimo Pinca/Associated Press

Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain will be the "No. 1 target" for Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger this summer, according to Spanish website (h/t Goal's Tom Maston).

The report insists Wenger has actually told the Arsenal board to pay what it takes to sign the free-scoring former Real Madrid man:

The Gunners' boss has made bolstering his forward line his main priority despite Olivier Giroud's fine form in front of goal this season.

And though the Serie A outfit are reluctant to sell the Argentina international, Wenger has insisted the north London hierarchy break the bank to get their man.

Higuain makes sense as Arsenal's priority in the next transfer window. Upgrading the club's options up front can't come soon enough for Wenger.

Wenger has seen his side struggle for goals all season.
Wenger has seen his side struggle for goals all season.Matt Dunham/Associated Press

The Frenchman has already seen his team fail to score in nine games in all competitions this season, per the club's official site. It's a problem that's already cost the Gunners their place in the Capital One Cup, forced a replay in the FA Cup and cast major doubts about Arsenal's ability to win the Premier League title.

The Gunners' problem in front of goal is a simple one. Wenger's squad lacks natural finishers. Neither Danny Welbeck, Theo Walcott, nor Joel Campbell can be relied upon consistently in front of goal.

Doubts even persist about regular centre-forward Giroud, even though he's scored 18 times in all competitions this season, per Giroud has value particularly as an aerial threat and a link player in and around the box.

Yet, the Gunners need a more dynamic main striker, an attacker who will prompt greater fear in the opposition than the ex-Montpellier star. Fortunately, Higuain qualifies.

The Argentinian can stretch a defence with pace, is a force in the air and is a more decisive finisher than Giroud. Class and composure define Higuain whenever he gets a chance, but he's no flair player. Instead, he's a prolific No. 9 who leads the line as well as anybody in Europe.

That's been proved by 28 goals in Serie A and UEFA Europa League action already this season, according to ESPN FC.

But bringing Higuain and his goals to the Emirates Stadium won't be easy for Wenger.


Higuain's Agent Rules out Napoli Exit

The player's brother, Nicolas Higuain, who is also his agent, recently told Italian radio station Radio Kiss Kiss Napoli (h/t James Whaling of the Daily Mirror) there's no hope the striker will move this summer: "We have a contract, and there's no chance of playing elsewhere, but we can't think about the Champions League now but just about playing every game."

Higuain was a prime Arsenal target before moving to Italy in 2013.
Higuain was a prime Arsenal target before moving to Italy in 2013.Salvatore Laporta/Associated Press

This is isn't the first time Napoli have had to take a hard public stance regarding Gonzalo Higuain. Back in July 2015, club president Aurelio De Laurentiis said during an interview with Sky Sport Italia (h/t Goal's Mark Doyle) only a bid of €100 million, Higuain's buyout clause, would be enough to sign the attacker.

Back in September, the player himself reaffirmed his desire to help take Napoli back into the UEFA Champions League, per an interview with Italian source Mediaset Premium (h/t via Charles Perrin of the Daily Express).

But Arsenal's interest in Higuain is longstanding and strong. In fact, the striker appeared all set to join the Gunners in the summer of 2013.

His father, Jorge Higuain, even told Fox Sports Latin America (h/t Sid Lowe of the Guardian) a deal was close.

The Gunners have the attacking talent to help Higuain thrive.
The Gunners have the attacking talent to help Higuain thrive.Tim Ireland/Associated Press

It was a mistake to miss out on Gonzalo Higuain then. Wenger's squad still needs an efficient match-winner up front.

Putting Higuain in an attack already featuring forward Alexis Sanchez and playmaker Mesut Ozil would be a major statement of intent from Arsenal next season, one that would surely reaffirm the Gunners' status as genuine title contenders.