Gonzalo Higuain: What can Arsenal fans expect from the Real Madrid striker on the verge of a move to the Emirates?
The Argentina international is close to becoming the Gunners' record signing. Here, Jack Pitt-Brooke reveals the attributes he will bring with him to north London
Friday 21 June 2013
Arsenal might be close to filling their great gaping vacancy, with the likely signing of Gonzalo Higuain.
Although last season was far from disastrous, it was immediately clear that they lacked a goal-scorer good enough to replace Robin van Persie. Olivier Giroud is an admirable trier, a reliable 7/10 man but, when it matters, more of a Europa League striker than a Champions League one.
Higuain, though, is unambiguously from the top bracket. Real Madrid is not an easy place to find your voice as a footballer, given the politics, the drama and the competition for places, but Higuain managed to do exactly that.
Real Madrid sign lots of players, and lots of young talented ones too and so Higuain's great achievement is to fight his way into the team, season after season, in a way that so many others failed to do.
Bought from River Plate in December 2006, having just turned 19, Higuain made his debut in January 2007. In those six and a half seasons since, he has been remarkably consistent, with 107 La Liga goals. Only Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (in, it must be said, less time) have scored more than him.
As a player, Higuain's strength is obvious. He does not quite have van Persie's preternatural game intelligence, or that firework burst of Luis Suarez or Carlos Tevez, but in front of goal he is deadly, with brilliant movement, anticipation and an ability to find the net from any angle or range with either foot.
Higuain just scores goals. He scored goals under Fabio Capello, Bernd Schuster, Juande Ramos, Manuel Pellegrini and Jose Mourinho. He would often start seasons as second choice but score enough to fight his way back into the side. Many strikers, initially preferred by the coach, the fans or the owner, were sidelined having been beaten to the shirt by 'el Pipita'. In a sense, Higuain saw off Ruud van Nistelrooy, Raul, Javier Saviola and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
Even in the last four seasons, when Higuain had to share striking duties with Florentino Perez's favoured €35m man Karim Benzema, he continued to impress. He scored more league goals than Benzema in three of the last four years, with 75 to Benzema's 55 since 2009-10. It is testament to Higuain's resilience and persistence that he has continued to fight at Madrid for this long.
Like many at Madrid, he might be disappointed to have been there while the greatest team in football history was playing at Camp Nou. His return of three league titles and one Copa Del Rey is nothing to scorn but, in another time, it might have been better.
But now Higuain has decided to end his time at Madrid and seems to have chosen Arsenal for his next destination. He would provide goals, nerve, resilience and conviction in a team which has lacked all four for too long. Arsenal have the basics in place, but have been desperate for a fearsome spearhead. Higuain could be that man.
See for yourself with this collection of Higuain's greatest goals...
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