Napoli's Argentinian-French forward Gonzalo Higuain celebrates at the end of the Italian Serie A football match SSC Napoli vs Frosinone Calcio on May 14 2016 at the San Paolo stadium in Naples.
Image credit: AFP
Juventus have agreed to pay the full €90 million release clause to sign the 28-year-old striker, who has scored a remarkable 71 goals in 104 Serie A matches for Napoli, including 36 in 35 last season to break the all-time record for a single season.
That works out as £75.3m, putting the Higuain deal onto the podium of all-time transfer fees paid, behind Real Madrid’s world record captures of Cristiano Ronaldo (£80m in 2009) and Gareth Bale (£85m in 2013).
That makes the fee the biggest ever which was not breaking the world record and the biggest both paid and received by an Italian club. Higuain is also the most costly South American player of all time, surpassing Neymar.
Angel Di Maria
£59m (Eto'o swap)
Kevin de Bruyne
As well as becoming the third most expensive player of all time, Tuesday’s deal makes the striker the third most expensive player ever when you take into account combined transfer fees.
Angel Di Maria unexpectedly tops the list - with Nicolas Anelka holding up surprisingly well despite last moving for a transfer fee in 2008 when he joined Chelsea from Bolton for £15m.
The impact on European football
Do we have new, serious contenders for the Champions League? It may seem like a silly question to ask of a club which contested the final just two years ago, but the truth is that Europe’s biggest prize has really been the domain of a handful of clubs in recent years: Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.
Even if they do lose Paul Pogba (see below), Juventus are still putting together a remarkably strong team - and, just as importantly, a remarkably strong squad too.
As well as signing Higuain to bring in Serie A’s best goalscorer, they have also added playmaker Miralem Pjanic from Roma for £27m, 21-year-old Croatian sensation Marko Pjaca from Dinamo Zagreb for £19m, Dani Alves on a free from Barcelona and centre-back Medhi Benatia on loan from Bayern Munich.
This is the starting XI that Juventus will be able to put out next season:
As well as a subs’ bench featuring this lot: Mario Mandzukic, Hernanes, Alex Sandro, Benatia, Pjaca, Simone Zaza, Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Without question Juventus will be one of the best clubs in European football next season. They could even challenge for their first Champions League trophy since 1996.
The impact on Serie A
Corriere dello Sport, Higuain-Juventus, prima pagina
Image credit: From Official Website
Juventus have won the past five league titles in Italy but this summer has made Serie A even less competitive.
Napoli were the closest finishers to Juve last season as they claimed 82 points to Juve’s 91 but now they have been shorn of the inspiration striker who allowed them to even get that close.
Roma were third, just two points behind Napoli, but have already lost their creative inspiration Miralem Pjanic this summer to, you guessed it, Juventus.
The competitive imbalance in Italy was already starting to resemble Paris Saint-Germain’s domination of the French league - and the Higuain deal will only make it worse, even if Paul Pogba does leave.
Andrea Tabacco from our Italian office tells us:
It means Juventus finally attain the status of a big club of Europe like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Chelsea and so on. Yes, unfortunately there’s the risk of a national league which lacks entertainment and without competition, but, you know, the ball is circle, even if Juventus could win the Italian title in March, as Bayern Munich and PSG did last season. From this point of view Italy is more similar to Bundesliga and Ligue 1 after this deal.
The ripple effect
Ah yes, Pogba. With Juventus committing such a huge amount of money to the Higuain deal, they will now let the midfielder go this summer. His departure was almost certain in any case but this likely means it is inevitable.
Reports say Juve are holding out for €120m (£100m), which Manchester United may be prepared to pay. With Real Madrid also sniffing around, Juve won’t have to sell on the cheap.
As for Napoli, just an hour after news of the Higuain deal broke it was revealed that they have agreed to sign Ajax’s Polish striker Arkadiusz Milik, who will cost €35m (£30m) - which is itself a record fee for a club from the Netherlands.