Arsenal target Gonzalo Higuain has now joined Serie A runners up Napoli from Real Madrid. The Argentinian striker was for some reason not wanted by Real Madrid anymore, despite netting 16 league goals last season. It’s fair to say that it never quite worked out for him at the Bernabau and now he will get a fresh start in Italy, replacing arguably the top striker in the world, Edison Cavani, who joined PSG earlier this transfer window. With Higuain’s strike rate though, he is an ideal replacement for the Uruguayan.
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Higuain is arguably quite an under-rated striker in some quarters. Despite scoring less goals than Cavani he also featured in less games and in fact only started 19 games, making his 16 goals even more impressive than they first seem.
Napoli will obviously miss the huge goal haul from Cavani, but it’s worth noting that Higuain actually had a far superior chance conversion rate than Cavani, netting a very impressive 33.3% of his total chances last season. If he can get anywhere close to this next season and wit a starting berth in Napoli’s side there is no reason why he cannot hit 20+ league goals.
This is not to say that Cavani wasn’t a huge asset to Napoli and undoubtedly it’s difficult to replace a striker of his ilk. Defending in Italy is notoriously tight, but there is a lot of evidence to suggest that Higuain can be a big hit for Napoli.
Another positive factor in signing Higuain from Real Madrid is that he can provide a great deal of tactical flexibility. Cavani was very much an out-and-out forward, a goal poacher. The fact he scored six headers indicates that he can get into the six yard box and finish of chances, his fortay during his time in Naples.
Higuain on the other hand is arguably a bit more mobile and also able to pull off the front and support the play. He did this well for Madrid as when he led the line he would regularly pull off out wide and inter-change with Ronaldo, who in turn would go forward.
As we can see here from Madrid’s game versus Espanyol, where Higuain started as a striker he peeled off out wide on regular occasions as well as playing in the centre. This became a regular feature of his game and dependent on how Napoli set up under Benitez this is certainly an option they can utilize that will give them an extra dimension in attack.
The fact that Higuain scored less goals than Cavani should not worry Napoli fans, his incredibly effective chance conversion demonstrates that when called upon he can be a clinical finisher and if given regular playing time at Napoli (as he will be) he should be able to comfortably provide the goals to help Napoli mount a series Serie A title bid. Higuain came with a big fee (reported to be nearly £30 million) but having scored 107 goals in 190 league games for Real Madrid at the age of just 25, he is certainly a very proficient goal scorer.