Chelsea have agreed the loan deal of Argentinian striker Gonzalo Higuain with Juventus and in doing so, have given English football fans a chance to see a genuine world-class footballer on our pitches.
The English top-flight imports more foreign talent than any other division, but every so often a name stands out amongst all the rest. Dennis Bergkamp was one of the first, followed by Jurgen Klinnsman and then sporadically another world great tries his luck here.
Players often arrive here unheralded and leave as stars, Cristiano Ronaldo being a case in point, but only occasionally do we see the very best in the world come to England.
Curiously, 31-year-old Higuain was born less than 130 miles from these shores in Brest, Brittany. His journey has since taken him to South America, Spain and Italy, but his switch to Chelsea will be the first time he’s graced our shores as a player.
There’s no doubt in his pomp, there were few better than El Pipita. He’s been the most expensive South American footballer of all time, costing Juventus £75m until Neymar moved to PSG, then the most expensive player ever bought by an Italian side, until Ronaldo moved to Juve.
His transfer fees total more than £120m, with Milan having paid £15m just to take him on loan from Juventus. The likelihood is, Chelsea will be paying a similar amount. Is it money well spent?
It’s fair to say yes, he’s been a good investment for most clubs he’s played for. He has scored 290 career goals in 578 outings, giving him an average of a goal every other game. Whilst Ronaldo and Messi have dominated the world scene, the powerful striker has been able to slip by, under the radar to a degree.
At 31 there’s perhaps a shade of the Andrei Shevchenko about this move. He switched to Chelsea, ironically from Milan where Higuain has been playing, for £31m in 2006. He was 30 and some said past his best. Just eight goals for the Blues suggested they were right.
There’s a caveat with this move: Higuain is well-known to current Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri. He had the powerhouse at Napoli, where he enjoyed the most prolific spell of his career. He bagged 91 times in 146 outings, winning the Coppa Italia before his move to Juventus.
In Turin he thrived too, winning the league and cup double twice. One competition that eludes him is the Champions League and whilst this season might not be possible, a good five months now could see him get a tilt at it with Chelsea.
Sarri’s side are fourth-favourites for the title in current Premier League betting, meaning they’re likely to be in the Champions League next season. They’ve looked to be moving forward this campaign, evolving into something new and exciting.
That can only be helped by the arrival of Higuain. Sports science has moved on a phenomenal rate and 31 is still no age for a fit and firing footballer. His arrival at Stamford Bridge might just give them the boost they need to overtake Tottenham and challenge for a top-three finish.