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Higuain Would Be Arsenal’s Most Significant Signing Since Dennis Bergkamp

Each day that passes seems to bring yet another report that Gonzalo Higuain has taken one more step closer towards signing for Arsenal.

Some of the media coverage has focused on the idea that, at a potential value of £22m, Higuain’s transfer-fee would smash Arsenal’s biggest-ever transfer, that of £15million for Andrei Arshavin in 2009. Some have even warned Arsenal against splashing the cash for Higuain given how Arshavin is a good example of a footballer’s dramatic decline and the sad fact that they couldn’t find any club willing to take him until his contract ended on 1 June, thus letting him leave for free.

However, it might be more fitting to keep in mind what is arguably Arsenal’s most significant transfer signing: Dennis Bergkamp. At the risk of kicking a man when he’s already down, Arshavin was making a leap from a minnow of a team to join Arsenal. Bergkamp, however, came to Arsenal from Inter Milan in 1995, which was a time when Serie A commanded more respect than it does now.

Similar to Bergkamp, Higuain would be leaving one of the world’s biggest clubs in one of the world’s most-powerful leagues. Say what you will about La Liga being a two- or three-team league; the same could easily be said of the Premier League. The larger point here is that, unlike Arshavin, Higuain’s achievements while playing for Real Madrid since 2006 signify a potential break from Arsene Wenger’s preferred method of finding obscure or unknown young players and developing them. Higuain, like Bergkamp, is a well-known and highly coveted player. The only way that Higuain could be said to fit Wenger’s transfer-policy is that he was born in France. More seriously, Higuain might just fit Wenger’s transfer-policy by being a bargain.

This might sound odd when we’re talking about a sum of £22million until you consider what Higuain has achieved and how much he’s been overshadowed in the last year. Since joining Real Madrid from River Plate in 2006, he’s La Liga’s third-highest scorer with 107 league goals, behind only Ronaldo (146) and Messi (215). Even sharing time with Ronaldo (and, let’s admit it, “sharing” might flatter Ronaldo’s propensities) and having to compete with Karim Benzema, Higuain has shown what he’s capable of.

Similarly, playing with Messi for Argentina’s national team, Higuain has scored 20 goals in just 32 appearances while Messi has 35 in 82. His 26 goals in 2011-12 would have been good for third-best in the Premier League, just one behind Rooney and four behind Van Persie’s stunning 30. Should he come to Arsenal, he would almost certainly claim the starting center-forward role from Olivier Giroud, and we might see him return to the form he has shown so much of in past years. The idea that Arsenal might sign him for “only” £22m is remarkable; set aside 2012-13 and we might be looking at a signing of closer to £30m, if not higher. In fact, even during a frustrating season for him, the 25-year-old Higuain still scored more goals per minute than Luis Suarez or Robin van Persie.

While he may lack the verve or panache of Bergkamp, one area where he might remind Arsenal fans of the Dutch legend is his finishing. Simply put, Higuain knows how to put the ball in the back of the net. Left-footed, right-footed, on the run, from a set-piece, Higuain can score. He would be Arsenal’s most-clinical finisher by a country mile. Indeed, if Higuain does end up petting pen to paper, we just might be talking about him not as Arsenal’s most-expensive signing ever, but as Arsenal’s most-significant signing. These are some big words, I know, and it would take time for Higuain to back them up. Given his performance and his potential, though, I’m not terribly worried about having to eat these words.

If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read, you can read more of Jon’s writing at woolwich1886.blogspot.com and follow @woolwich_1886.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Gary O'Toole

    July 11, 2013 at 6:54 am

    Hardly fair to call Zenit a “minnow of a team” – Granted he was making a step up but Zenit are in the Champions League every season.

    Re Higuain, could be the penalty box poacher Arsenal need. He would make a good fantasy football signing i’d say!

  2. Olawale Akande Situ

    June 25, 2013 at 3:58 am

    Higuain signing will improve goal scoring of arsenal strikers. You cannot compare Higuain to Berkamp. Dennis is in a different class.

  3. Bergkamp_10

    June 24, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Nah brah!! Higuain is nowhere close to Dennis in terms of pure footballing ability and don’t think his arrival would start any eras like Bergkamp signing did.

    He is simply a good goalscorer and would definitely be an upgrade to Djourou. He would bang in some sitters that Djorou missed and would score few more goals, which is just what Arsenal may need anyways. But don’t think it will be as significant as the signing of Bergkamp.

  4. Dorian Speed

    June 22, 2013 at 1:19 am

    Random question from everyone: Who will be relegated this season? And, while we’re at it, promoted from the Championship?

    • Dorian Speed

      June 22, 2013 at 1:22 am

      … I wish there was a forum on WST where we could post general questions. Maybe I’m missing it? Ha – I looked – can’t find anything if there is…

      • The Gaffer

        June 22, 2013 at 11:41 am

        I’m contemplating adding a forum, but there isn’t one yet.

        Cheers,
        The Gaffer

  5. hoosiergunner

    June 21, 2013 at 7:58 pm

    Agreed. I cannot be more excited about the prospect of this signing… which looks like a go (If Juventus can stay away). Your article made me smile because my son and I were just talking about Bergkamp (one of my all-time favorites) the other day.

    Overall, I think we have to potential to do some awesome things in the coming season.

  6. brn442

    June 21, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Not sure what you mean by “significant”? As in impact or marquee?

    Impact (in the Premier League era), that would be Henry – hands down, followed by Viera, Pires, and Overmars. If that’s what you meant. Marquee – arguably yes on Bergkamp.

    Bergkamp’s transfer (which wasn’t Wenger’s signing btw) to Arsenal was a marquee signing for the entire Premier League.

    For a high profile player to leave Serie A in mid 90’s to come to England, meant the club and the league were serious about competing.

    Not sure Higuain will have the same impact but he is a damn good player – way above the average journeyman bodies Wenger has gotten used to signing, the past few seasons.

    • Jon

      June 21, 2013 at 7:10 pm

      Thanks for your comments–this is my first post at World Soccer Talk. By “significant”, I’m borrowing from the club’s official site’s description of the Bergkamp signing and referring to “marquee” in the sense that he’s already a known quantity to a degree that outstrips so many signings over the years. As to impact, time will tell.
      You’re of course right that Wenger didn’t sign Bergkamp–Sorry if I suggested that Wenger signed him– but it was Wenger’s idea to move him to the forward role where he flourished!

      • Dorian Speed

        June 22, 2013 at 1:17 am

        Welcome to the club, Jon! Good post. Nice food for thought article.

        🙂

      • brn442

        June 22, 2013 at 10:50 am

        No need Jon, you never did. Just a stray comment of mine.

        Good article.

  7. olasunkanmi

    June 21, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Up Arsenal

  8. Conor Canavan

    June 21, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    he would be an unbelievable signing. he would be van persie’s real replacement. he will start and even if he gets injured, we have giroud as a back-up. he scores around 20/25 a season. giroud, walcott and podolski all chipped in with lots of goals last season and he would add to it even more. hopefully it will go through!!!

  9. Mufc77

    June 21, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    It would be a good signing fir Arsenal. He’s A quality proven striker who can put the ball in the back of the net on a regular basis. If the rest if the team create the chances he will Finnish them off.

  10. Andre

    June 21, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    I think this could turn out to be a huge score for Arsenal. Because he is a quiet guy and overshadowed with both club and country it is easy to gloss over just how prolific a scorer he is. Consider that Higuain rarely takes PKs and his totals are even more impressive. He lead Real Madrid in goals twice (including one season with CR7 in the squad).

    The fact he is only 25 is another huge plus, his best seasons may be yet to come.

    If there is a potential liability it is that he has shown a lack of interest in tracking back at times.

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