Are Chelsea striking a good deal for their striker options?
By Joe Harker
Chelsea are reportedly planning to offload misfiring striker Alvaro Morata and bring in Gonzalo Higuain. Morata, Chelsea's record outfield signing, will be allowed to leave if a replacement can be secured and that will come in the form of a 31 year old Argentinian striker on a loan deal.
Higuain, a Juventus player, is already on loan at AC Milan but will have his time at the club cut short to secure a move to Chelsea. The striker has not been in the best form at his current club but his current tally of eight goals in 22 appearances means he has more than any player in Chelsea's squad besides Eden Hazard. Strikers Morata and Olivier Giroud have six goals between them, so Higuain likely represents an upgrade on their current options.
At the start of January Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri insisted he wasn't looking to sign a striker and was instead looking to bring in a winger, though it was clear to everyone else that the team needed a striker who would be counted on to score regularly.
Sarri also knows Higuain from their time together at Napoli, where the striker's form was good enough to earn him a move to Juventus, the dominant force in Italian football. Sarri and Higuain were only together for one season but it was the striker's best goalscoring season of his career as he played 42 games and scored 38 goals.
There are concerns over Higuain, who has a reputation for fluffing his lines and clear goalscoring opportunities in the big games. This is a somewhat unkind take on a player who has been a consistent goalscorer throughout his career. Besides, Chelsea aren't in a position to turn up their noses at a potential flat track bully for a striker when their alternative options aren't doing any better.
There is also the matter of his age. The striker is 31 and Chelsea have a policy of not signing players over 30 if they can help it, though the loan deal from Juventus may help allay those fears. He scores plenty of goals and the loan deal Chelsea are aiming to agree with Juventus would make him a short term option with the choice for a permanent deal at the end of it. He's a proven goalscorer and had his best goalscoring spell under Sarri, to snag him on loan makes plenty of sense.
However, Martin Laurence of WhoScored argues that Chelsea would be better off going for someone like Arkadiusz Milik, who replaced Higuain at Napoli. He is younger and has been statistically better this season, while there are other younger options the London based club might consider.
On the other hand, this is the January transfer window and it is much harder to sign players now compared to the summer. A loan move for Higuain until the end of the season makes plenty of sense, allowing Chelsea to assess their options and look at more permanent alternatives when they have a better chance of signing them.