10 Strikers Who Could Help Replace Gonzalo Higuain at Real Madrid

Laura Greene@@Greene_LFeatured ColumnistJune 21, 2013

10 Strikers Who Could Help Replace Gonzalo Higuain at Real Madrid

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    Gonzalo Higuain looks set to join Arsenal this summer.

    The 25-year-old has fallen down the pecking order at Real Madrid and has been outspoken about his desire to leave the La Liga club, as reported here on ESPNFC.com.

    According to David Hytner of the Guardian, the striker has already agreed in principle terms for a four-year deal at Arsenal.

    Higuain has scored 122 goals in the 262 games he has featured in for Madrid, since joining the side in 2007.

    But who is Real Madrid going to sign to replace the Argentina international?

    Los Blancos have been linked with a host of star strikers—from Luis Suarez to Edinson Cavani and even Wayne Rooney.

    Who should top Madrid’s list of the world’s best replacements for Higuain?

    There is an argument for including Cristiano Ronaldo in this list—were Madrid to sign Gareth Bale, CR7 could convert into an out-and-out striker. But with 34 goals in 34 La Liga games from the wing in 2012/13, some things are best left unchanged.

    We’ve analysed the top 10 strikers currently on the market and ranked them in order of their suitability for the side and the likelihood of them actually joining the club.

    Did we miss anyone who you would like to see up front at the Bernabeu? Let us know in the comments section below. 

Honourable Mention: Alvaro Morata

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    Alvaro Morata is one for the future at Real Madrid.

    The 20-year-old was part of Spain’s European U-21 Championship team, who saw off Italy with a 2-4 win this week to win the competition.

    The striker was awarded with the Adidas Golden Boot award, after finishing as top scorer in the tournament with four goals.

    Morata is approaching his third year at Real Madrid, where he has already made 14 appearances with the first team, scoring twice and registering one assist.

    This season he has played 18 times for the Madrid B team, with a great return of 12 goals and five assists. 

    At 6'2'' he is good in the air and very powerful, with a good turn of pace and the ability to shrug off defenders with ease. His dribbling, crossing and finishing earmarks him as a top striker in years to come. He has even been touted as a potential replacement for Liverpool’s Luis Suarez in this piece by fellow B/R writer Ethan Grant.  

    Real Madrid would be crazy to let him go and while he may not yet be ready to fill Higuain’s boots, he soon will be. Watch out Europe.

Robert Lewandowski: Borussia Dortmund

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    Robert Lewandowski’s four goals against Real Madrid in the 2012/13 Champions League made him a prize candidate for rumours linking him to the club.

    The Borussia Dortmund man is one of Europe’s most sought-after strikers, after weighing in with 24 Bundesliga goals and 10 Champions League strikes last season.

    Aged 24 and with a relatively modest price tag in the region of £24.5 million, he’s the forward everyone wants.

    However, by all accounts, he has his heart set on joining Bayern Munich despite Dortmund blocking a move to the Bundesliga champions.

    It looks like he will see out the remaining year of his contract with Dortmund before joining Bayern next season.

    However, this has done little to dispel rumours linking him with a host of clubs, including Real Madrid, as seen here in Mark Ogden’s article in the Telegraph.

    Suitable? Lewandowski would undoubtedly be an asset to Real Madrid.

    Likely? Very unlikely. It does not look like Dortmund are going to let Lewandowski leave the club this summer, with his most likely destination being the Allianz Arena this time next year. 

Jackson Martinez: FC Porto

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    Jackson Martinez leads the scoring charts for the 2012/13 Portuguese Liga—his first season in the division.

    The Colombian striker netted 26 goals and made two assists in 30 games for FC Porto, after joining the club from Jaguares de Chiapas. He also has Champions League experience, having appeared in eight games during the last campaign and scoring three goals for his side.

    While not one of the biggest names on the market, Martinez could be a snip at £12.5 million.

    And Madrid have been credited with interest in the striker. According to talkSPORT, they are “ready to do battle” with Tottenham Hotspur to sign the 26-year-old.

    Manchester United and Liverpool have also been linked with the forward.

    Suitable? Martinez has enjoyed a successful first term with FC Porto but second-season-syndrome can often strike. It will be interesting to see if he can maintain his form in 2013/14.

    Likely? If Real Madrid offered FC Porto a hefty sum, the Portuguese side would find it hard to keep hold of him. But it’s unlikely that Madrid will move for the striker after just one season in Europe. 

Wayne Rooney: Manchester United

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    By all accounts, Wayne Rooney wants to leave Manchester United.

    Cristiano Ronaldo and Rooney work well together. Dangerously well.

    Real Madrid have the money to spend on Rooney—what’s £57 million to a club worth $3.3 billion?

    It sounds like the perfect situation doesn't it? Rooney will be happy, Real Madrid will be thrilled and Manchester United get a nice payday.

    Rooney is, without doubt, a top striker. Nearing the age of 28, he could still command a big move to one of Europe’s biggest clubs.

    He has scored 197 goals in 402 games for United since joining the side from Everton in 2004.

    And, according to this report by Ben Smith on the BBC Football website, he's ready to leave Old Trafford. 

    Suitable? Rooney would be an asset to any side and his relationship with Ronaldo makes him a great option for Madrid.

    Likely? It’s extremely difficult to imagine Rooney moving to an overseas club. It’s unlikely that we’ll ever see him playing for Real Madrid.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Paris Saint-Germain

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    Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a player who requires little introduction.

    At 6’5’’ he is one of the most imposing and talented strikers in the modern game.

    Equally dangerous when using either foot, "Ibra" is a powerful presence in front of goal. He ticks the boxes of almost every trait you would want in a centre-forward.

    His fieriness as a player often bleeds into the relationship he has with his coaches, which has seen him court controversy in the past.

    Ibrahimovic has flourished under Carlo Ancelotti at Paris Saint-Germain, where he scored 30 goals and registered 10 assists in the last Ligue 1 campaign.

    The Swede still has two years remaining on his current contract at the Parc des Princes but this has not quelled rumours about a potential move away from the club this summer.

    Ibrahimovic has been linked with Juventus and Manchester City, according to a report from Mark Doyle on Goal.com.

    And, with Ancelotti rumoured to be taking the reins at Real Madrid next season, it’s been suggested on that Ibrahimovic may be tempted to go with him, as seen here on Football365.com.

    Suitable? If anyone could make an impression at Real Madrid, it’s Ibrahimovic. It’s scary to think of the impact he could have on a side that already contains Cristiano Ronaldo and playmakers like Mezut Ozil.

    Likely? It’s Zlatan—anything could happen.

Javier Hernandez: Manchester United

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    Javier Hernandez, or “Chicharito,” is a player who is often on the sidelines for Manchester United.

    The club’s preference for having four strikers has seen him used mostly as an impact substitute. And it seems to work.

    In the 2012/13 season, Chicharito started nine Premier League games and came on as a substitute 13 times. He scored 10 goals and made five assists. In the Champions League and FA Cup, he scored a combined total of seven goals and two assists.

    His time on the bench has led to inevitable speculation that the 25-year-old might be about to depart the club.

    United fans love him. Similarities to former Old Trafford great Ole Gunnar Solskjaer make sure of that.

    The Sun’s Neil Custis and Dan King have reported on interest in the striker from Real Madrid.

    Suitable? His work ethic, good attitude and natural talent would make him a good addition to any side. Whether Real Madrid would bring out the best in him would remain to be seen.

    Likely? It’s fairly unlikely that Manchester United will let Chicharito leave Old Trafford—with Robin van Persie nearing 30, Danny Welbeck in and out of form and Wayne Rooney potentially on his way out of the club.

Stephan El Shaarawy: AC Milan

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    AC Milan striker Stephan El Shaarawy has been linked with a move away from San Siro.

    The 20-year-old, who is valued at £24 million, scored 16 Serie A goals for Milan last season and registered two goals and two assists in the Champions League.

    El Shaarawy signed for Milan in 2011 and has drawn a lot of praise since joining the club—he was voted Serie A Young Player of the Year in 2012.

    On Goal.com Andriy Shevchenko said that the young striker reminded him of himself, while Jose Altafini compared El Shaarawy to Lionel Messi and Neymar

    High praise indeed from two former Rossoneri greats.

    The Italian has been linked with Arsenal and Manchester City, according to Ben Smith of the Mirror. However, with a contract that runs until 2017, it would seem unlikely that AC Milan would let such a prodigious talent leave.

    But comments attributed to the club’s vice president Adriano Galliani in the Mirror this week, say:

    El Shaarawy? We never said he is not for sale.

    The forward was linked with Madrid in 2012, according to Caughtoffside.com and he could emerge as a viable target for Los Blancos.

    Suitable? El Shaarawy is still developing as a player. He started the last Serie A season with a bang but had a quiet finish to the campaign. It would be a gamble to see if he could cut it under a new coach in La Liga.

    Likely? At 20 years old and with lots more to come, it’s unlikely that AC Milan would let El Shaarawy leave San Siro, unless they receive an astronomical offer that’s just too good to refuse.

Stevan Jovetic: Fiorentina

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    In-demand striker Stevan Jovetic has been on Real Madrid’s radar since 2011.

    According to quotes from his agent Fali Ramadani in a piece written by Luis Mira of Goal.com, the La Liga side made a bid for him before he settled on joining Fiorentina.

    The 23-year-old has registered 40 goals and 24 assists since joining the Serie A side and is regularly linked with big-name clubs.

    Recently, his suitors have included Arsenal and Juventus, according to James Dickenson’s report in the Express

    And Real Madrid are once again being linked with the Montenegro international.

    Jack Wilson of the Daily Star reckons that Jovetic is being lined up as a replacement for Higuain.

    And CNN Italian sports correspondent Tancredi Palmeri said on Twitter:

    Real Madrid have contacted Fiorentina re Jovetic

    — Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) June 10, 2013

    Fiorentina’s failure to secure Champions League football next season could play a factor in Jovetic’s decision to leave the club.

    Suitable? Jovetic is a proven talent who can play anywhere up front. He is technically gifted and is good with both feet. He’d be a good fit at Real Madrid.

    Likely? Although this is a credible move. I think that a Jovetic to Juventus deal is more likely to happen this season.

Carlos Tevez: Manchester City

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    Carlos Tevez—tireless worker, exceptional finisher, fiercely competitive. Manchester City’s No. 32 is a great player to have on your side.

    There can be no doubting Tevez’s raw, natural talent.

    Unfortunately, there is another side to the Argentina international—a petulant streak that ensures controversy is never too far away.

    The striker has scored 73 goals for Manchester City since joining the side in 2009.

    He has played with Cristiano Ronaldo before—at Manchester United where the attacking triumvirate of Rooney, Ronaldo and Tevez caused havoc for opposition defences.

    And he has been linked with a move to Real Madrid, as seen here in James Dickenson’s report for the Express.

    Tevez has also been linked with Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco, by Dickenson’s reckoning.

    With just one year remaining on his current deal at the Etihad, it could prove irresistible to cash in on the forward this summer.

    Suitable? Yes. Tevez’s strong, physical approach would fit in well at Real Madrid. His temperament, however, may not fit in a dressing room that is notoriously egotistical.

    Likely? It would not be surprising to see Tevez pull on a Madrid shirt at the Bernabeu next season. This could happen.

Edinson Cavani: Napoli

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    The man everyone wants—Napoli forward Edinson Cavani.

    Cavani topped the Serie A scoring charts this season with 29 strikes for the Neapolitan side.

    With a buyout clause said to be in the region of £53 million, he has attracted suitors from some of Europe’s biggest clubs.

    According to this report from Graeme Bailey of Sky Sports, Chelsea have been interested in securing his services, as have Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

    Whereas, the Guardian has reported that Real Madrid are already in talks with Cavani’s representatives, in a bid to bring him to the Bernabeu. 

    Cavani was quoted in the Guardian as saying:

    Interest from big clubs is a huge honour for me because it's something I've dreamed about since I was a child. Once the Confederations Cup is over we'll see what happens.

    Suitable? Anyone who deemed Cavani to be an unsuitable transfer target would be out of their mind. He’s made for a team like Real Madrid.

    Likely? With a buyout clause of £53 million, Madrid are one of the most likely clubs in Europe to come up with the money to sign Cavani. Watch this space.

Luis Suarez: Liverpool

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    In case you hadn’t heard, Luis Suarez seems to be interested in a move to Real Madrid.

    The Liverpool striker, who is as good as courting controversy as he is in front of goal, has made no secret of his desire to join the club.

    Quotes that the 26-year-old gave in an interview to Uruguayan radio 890 Sport suggested that he was unhappy in England and would find it “difficult” to say no to Real Madrid—seen here, in an article by Andy Hunter in the Guardian

    Recent reports, including this from Sky Sports, have added to speculation that the Bernabeu could be Suarez’s next home.

    Liverpool's No.7 would certainly fit in at Real Madrid. Exasperating as his behavior may be, his skill as a striker is exceptional.

    Suarez scored 30 goals in all competitions for Liverpool in the 2012/13 season—a figure which would have been increased had he not been sidelined through suspension.

    Lethal in front of goal, Suarez is a high-energy player who is great at dribbling, losing his marker and attacking from wide positions. He is good at set pieces, shooting from inside and outside the box and has sound aerial ability. He’s got everything you’d want from a striker.

    Suitable? Suarez would be a fantastic replacement for Higuain. He has made an impression on every team he’s played for and takes no time to bed in.

    Likely? If Suarez’s “come-and-get-me-pleas” are heard by the right people at Real Madrid, this could be one of the most likely moves of the summer. But Madrid will have to act fast—Suarez is not short of suitors.