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Same old story for Wenger and Arsenal as the Gunners miss out on Higuain.

Thursday 28th July 2016
Argentina forward Gonzalo Higuain became the third most expensive player in football history this week as Juventus paid Serie A rivals Napoli the small sum of £75.3m to bring Higuain's services to their already stellar, successive Scudetto winning ranks.

The footballing world collectively balked at the giant fee, one you would imagine Juventus were apparently willing to pay safe in the knowledge that the seemingly inevitable sale of Paul Pogba will eventually place an even more considerable amount of money in their coffers, to make Higuain's transfer the third highest in the history of the sport, only topped by the fees Real Madrid splashed out on Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

However, unlike the transfers for Ronaldo and Bale, many have questioned Higuain's price tag, while the Argentine is one of the best strikers in world football, and is coming off the back of equalling the record for goals in a Serie A season- with 36 goals for Napoli last season- most people do not regard him as one of the very best in the game, and believe his transfer fee should not be amongst the stratospheric sums paid for the likes of Ronaldo, Bale, Zidane and Neymar, as unlike those names, Gonzalo Higuain is probably not one of the true greats of the last 10-15 years.

Exorbitant transfer fee or not, it is hard not to look at Higuain's move to Juventus as an opportunity missed for Arsenal. A team clearly searching for a new forward- as evidenced by their slightly optimistic failed bid of around £35m for Lyon forward Alexandre Lacazette this week once it became clear that Higuain was Juventus bound- and who we are consistently told have the financial capability to compete for the top players, so the transfer fee should not have been a problem, and yet, the Gunners have missed out on a key transfer target- and not for the first time in recent years.
Unrest has been building for years amongst sections of the Arsenal supporters over recent summers, as they have been constantly linked with high calibre strikers, and fans have been left frustrated when the transfer window closes and Arsenal line up in September with the predictably underwhelming options of Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott to lead their attack for another season.

Giroud tends to be Arsene Wenger's preferred choice at centre forward, and while he is undoubtedly decent player at Premier League, he has drawn the ire of some Arsenal fans, having become essentially the epitome of what Arsenal have become in the last five years: Decent yet uninspiring, but not good enough to be considered close to the elite.

Giroud should not be totally discredited, he has led the line at Arsenal acceptably since arriving from Montpellier, and would be a useful option for any team, but if Arsene Wenger's side should not be resting on their laurels, and instead need a superior forward to propel them to the next level.

Wenger's stance on finding a striking solution has been a bone of contention, where the Frenchmen has often quipped that Arsenal will only bring in another forward if there is one available in a deal that represents value for money, and that chance to do so has been rare in the last few years. However, a quick look through some of the forwards who have transferred between clubs in Europe over the last three or four years shows that top calibre centre forwards have been readily available, and many would have been ideally suited to Arsenal.

Higuain can now be added to a list of available strikers that Arsenal have missed out on that includes: Luis Suarez, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Antoine Griezmann, Diego Costa, Edinson Cavani and Alvaro Morata amongst others, who are all players who would have improved on Arsenal's current options, and who have moved clubs at least once in the past few seasons.
Despite missing out on such obvious striking quality in summers gone by, Arsene Wenger still seems reluctant to splash out for a new number nine. There is a feeling that Higuain could have been an Arsenal player had the Gunners really pushed to make a deal, and there lowball offer to Lyon to Lacazette- at least in the current market- harkens back to their comical attempts to sign Luis Suarez from Liverpool, when they offered £40m and one pound back in 2014 to trigger the Uruguayan's release clause. Suarez has since gone on to further establish himself as the best centre forward in world football, and would almost certainly have brought a Premier League title to the Emirates Stadium had he joined two summers ago. Arsenal were made to look foolish in the Suarez transfer saga, and yet still do not seem to have learnt their lesson.

Having missed out on Higuain, Arsene Wenger and Arsenal now really need to ensure that the club step up their search for a top quality centre forward, otherwise they risk being left behind all of their big rivals for yet another season.

 

 
Michael Soloman
Journalist. Long-suffering Derby County fan, Lionel Messi and Barca bandwagon-er.

Total articles: 38

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