Gonzalo Higuain Brings Nothing that Arsenal Don’t Already Have


Gonzalo Higuain was as close to being an Arsenal player as anyone could ever be without actually becoming one back in the summer of 2013 (or so we were told). With Real Madrid ready to offload him, it appeared that Arsenal were going to win the Argentine’s services and be set in the striker category for years to come.

Well, that didn’t happen. Higuain chose Napoli and no one knows what would have happened had he would have wound up at Arsenal instead. But despite not going to Arsenal, he has still been linked to Arsenal every single transfer window since his switch to Napoli.

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The Telegraph is reporting that if Napoli miss out on the Champions League, Gonzalo Higuain is set to move on. And despite Liverpool being “long-time suitors” of the striker, Arsenal now appear to be the preferred destination of the want-away Higuain.

But what would Arsenal even gain from such a signing?

Gonzalo Higuain is a talented striker. He brings good physicality into the box and he has a fierce shot from outside as well. When compared to Olivier Giroud, he’s very similar for a number of reasons, none of which favor Higuain if he truly wishes to come to Arsenal.

Higuain holds up play well, like Giroud, but he does provide a much more effective dribbler. He’s much less effective in the air, but he links up play similarly. Here’s a handy chart (via Squawka) that depicts the similarities between the two strikers. Aside from Giroud’s gaudy goals per 90 number and his aerial dominance, the rest of the stats are a virtual wash.

[table id=38 /]

One thing that Gonzalo Higuain has a a knack for doing that Arsenal certainly don’t want to usher into the Emirates is his knack for disappearing for several games at a time. Higuain is a burst type of player; for several games he will play absolutely superb football, then he’ll fade away until his next emergence.

Take for instance Higuain’s last four matches: Zero goals, zero assists, 271 minutes played, one yellow card. Those kind of stats are grounds for crucifixion at the Emirates.

But the four games prior to that? Four goals, one assist, 360 minutes played.

And if one example wasn’t good enough, here’s another one from earlier in the season. From October 26th-November 23rd, Gonzalo Higuain totaled a massive six goals and an assist in 456 minutes played. However, on either side of that burst, Mr. Higuain was less than impressive.

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From the beginning of the season up until October 23rd, in 809 minutes, Gonzalo Higuain scored three goals and three assists. At the other end of that scoring burst, from November 27th to December 18th, in 310 minutes, he scored zero goals and assisted zero. And then he began another scoring burst (all stats from WhoScored.com).

I understand that some players go hot and cold, one could even argue that Alexis Sanchez, although I’d blame his dip more to the fatigue of having to carry the entire team on his back coupled with a pesky injury. Not only that, but Alexis’s player ratings didn’t drop all that much (from WhoScored.com and Squawka.com) during his goal-less stretches.

For a team like Arsenal that’s aiming for the top, a player as inconsistent as Gonzalo Higuain just doesn’t have a place except as a secondary striker. And therein lies the next problem.

Gonzalo Higuain is 27 years old, right at the prime of his career, a year and some change younger than our Olivier Giroud. Being a young talent and inheriting Giroud’s mantel is obviously not for Higuain, so the only other two options are to replace him or back him up.

A replacement for Giroud in an of itself wouldn’t make much sense at all. No striker is hotter than Giroud and he’s showing no signs of cooling off. Not only that, but the pricetag to nab Higuain is still tabbed in the 34ish million pound range that Napoli paid for him two summers ago, and Transfermarkt.com has him pegged at the same, at the peak of his value.

It may seem like I’m bashing on Gonzalo Higuain, but that’s not at all the case. He is a great striker with world-class qualities. But that being said, paying an exorbitant amount of money for a guy that wouldn’t be an upgrade, wouldn’t settle for being a backup, and isn’t young enough to be a prodigy makes as much sense as signing another head coach when Arsene Wenger still wants another half decade at the helm.

Gonzalo Higuain and Edinson Cavani fall in the category of continuous want-aways, whether they actually want away or not. The media sees them as superior than Olivier Giroud because of their history versus Giroud’s present. The media will also never give Giroud the credit he deserves and that’s one of the main reasons why they will continue to link ‘top notch’ strikers like Cavani and Gonzalo Higuain to Arsenal. They see Giroud as a weakness and if Arsenal were ever to be ‘serious’ contenders, they would have to spend big, just like Chelsea, Real Madrid and Manchester United (to name a few) in order to be serious.

Luckily for us, Arsene Wenger is in charge, and he spares us that frustration, while in exchange giving us only a wee little bit of his own.

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Next: What to do Without Giroud?