If reports are to be believed, Gonzalo Higuain is on his way to Chelsea.
According to Sky Sports, Higuain is set to cut his loan stay at AC Milan short and join Chelsea from Juventus until the end of the season.
There will also be an option to extend the loan by 12 months, providing Higuain meets expectations at Stamford Bridge.
And that’s the question: will Higuain be a success in the Premier League?
The Argentinian was heavily linked with Arsenal before he left Real Madrid for Napoli in 2013, but a deal failed to materialise.
His performances for Napoli resulted in a move to Juventus in 2016. However, the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo in the summer meant Higuain was suddenly surplus to requirements.
An indifferent spell in Milan looks set to end and the 31-year-old is now on the verge of competing with the Premier League’s other big hitters.
So how does the 31-year-old compare to centre forwards from the other ‘big six’ clubs? In other words, do Higuain’s numbers hold up against those of Harry Kane, Sergio Aguero and Chelsea’s current strikers?
We’ve put Higuain’s statistics from over the last two league seasons up against the strikers playing regularly for the current top six. Here are the results.
Goals per 90: 0.48
Shot accuracy: 36.71%
Conversion rate: 13.92%
Chances created per 90: 0.93
Higuain scored 24 Serie A goals for Juventus in 2016/17 but only managed 16 last season. He’s fared even worse at Milan this term, scoring just six league goals. Subsequently, he has a lower conversion rate than all but one of the following players.
Goals per 90: 0.48
Shot accuracy: 43.85%
Conversion rate: 14.04%
Chances created per 90: 1.26
Alvaro Morata started last season brilliantly but looked devoid of confidence by the end, having scored just 11 league goals. He has bagged a further five in the current campaign but it hasn’t been enough; Maurizio Sarri has resorted to playing Eden Hazard as a ‘False 9’.
Higuain has been identified to solve that problem, but his numbers are no better than Morata’s. They are identical when it comes to goals scored per 90 minutes, but Morata has a better shot accuracy percentage and conversion rate. He also creates more chances than Higuain.
That said, there is a feeling that Milan was the wrong move for Higuain, and his numbers will improve in the right team. Sarri will be hoping he can create the right environment for the striker to shine, as he did when managing the marksman during his stint in charge of Napoli.
Goals per 90: 0.3
Shot accuracy: 30.77%
Conversion rate: 7.69%
Chances created per 90: 2.07
Much like Morata, Olivier Giroud hasn’t done enough to convince Sarri he is good enough to lead the line for Chelsea. In terms of what the Blues need most – somebody to score goals – Giroud is inferior to the rest of the strikers on this list.
However, two things work in his favour. His hold-up play makes him a useful creative outlet, and he is more reliable than the other ‘back-up’ strikers at the top six clubs, such as Daniel Sturridge and Fernando Llorente. That’s why Giroud looks set to stay while Morata is rumoured to be on his way to Atletico Madrid.
Goals per 90: 0.8
Shot accuracy: 43.30%
Conversion rate: 16.86%
Chances created per 90: 1.01
Harry Kane is often referred to as the world’s leading centre forward at present, and we’re about to find out just how important he is to Tottenham while he is sidelined with an ankle injury.
His form has been the envy of teams like Chelsea, whose move for Giroud is partly based on the fact their rivals for the top four are prospering from possessing clinical goalscorers while the Blues simply aren’t scoring enough goals.
Kane attempts far more shots than most strikers, which is perhaps why his conversion rate is surprisingly low. Still, it is superior to that of Higuain, who will do well to get close to Kane’s numbers.
Goals per 90: 0.86
Shot accuracy: 40.37%
Conversion rate: 19.25%
Chances created per 90: 1.69
Sergio Aguero has been the Premier League’s most consistent goalscorer since arriving from Spain in 2011. He found the net 21 times in 25 league games last season and has 10 in 17 so far this term.
He and Higuain have been battling for the centre-forward spot in the Argentina team for many years now. Their similarities – both in regards to form and style of play – have made it difficult for them to start together for their country.
Both now in their 30s, Aguero has remained close to the top of his game over the last two seasons while Higuain has started to dip, as proven by the statistics above. But a move to the Premier League could re-energise Higuain.
Goals per 90: 0.66
Shot accuracy: 58.14%
Conversion rate: 20.93%
Chances created per 90: 1.28
Fighting Aguero for a place in the Manchester City team hasn’t been plain sailing for Gabriel Jesus, but the youngster has an impressive conversion rate, all the same, proving he takes his chances when given the opportunity to shine.
Chelsea will hope Higuain can provide the goalscoring experience of an Aguero rather than the promise of a Jesus, which is why they have opted for a 31-year-old rather than a striker who will develop over time.
Goals per 90: 0.52
Shot accuracy: 52.54%
Conversion rate: 20.34%
Chances created per 90: 1.05
Chelsea were said to be close to re-signing Romelu Lukaku in the summer of 2017 before Manchester United swooped. The Blues ended up with Morata instead, and despite Lukaku’s tepid goal tally this season, Chelsea arguably made the wrong decision.
Higuain is a little closer to Lukaku in terms of frame and power, something Morata hasn’t really provided. The Argentinian will hope to increase his shooting accuracy to somewhere near Lukaku’s impressive percentage.
Goals per 90: 0.46
Shot accuracy: 45.86%
Conversion rate: 17.29%
Chances created per 90: 1.65
Roberto Firmino is undeniably the least traditional centre forward currently playing as a centre forward for a top six side.
He has sometimes dropped a little deeper this season, but he is mostly known as the focal point of Liverpool’s frightening front three, a position in which he has thrived for Liverpool.
Something Chelsea will lack with Higuain up front is a striker who thinks about creating chances before scoring himself. Firmino’s capacity to do exactly that has helped Jurgen Klopp’s side to improve over the last two campaigns.
Goals per 90: 0.53
Shot accuracy: 47.71%
Conversion rate: 19.27%
Chances created per 90: 1.35
Much like Giroud and Firmino, Alexandre Lacazette has proved to be an unselfish option in Arsenal’s attack. Unai Emery has sometimes moved Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (more on him below) out wide to accommodate Lacazette through the middle.
Indeed, Lacazette has been most effective when dovetailing with Aubameyang. Higuain will rarely be used in a strike partnership at Chelsea, but he will have Eden Hazard to work off – an enticing prospect.
Goals per 90: 0.77
Shot accuracy: 48.86%
Conversion rate: 27.27%
Chances created per 90: 1.13
Few players have settled as quickly in a new league as Aubameyang. The Gabon international hit the ground running at the Emirates after his January 2018 arrival from Borussia Dortmund and hasn’t stopped scoring since.
Aubameyang’s proficiency is highlighted by his excellent conversion rate, the highest of any player on this list.
Higuain will be dreaming of a similar start to life in the Premier League. If he can instantly bang in the goals, Chelsea’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League will receive a huge boost.