Chelsea have looked set to land Gonzalo Higuain on loan from Juventus all week, so what’s the hold-up? The manner in which they signed Olivier Giroud perhaps shines a light on the answer to this question.
Manager Maurizio Sarri is known to be unhappy with his current striking options, Giroud and Alvaro Morata, so much so, he has even opted to field Eden Hazard as a False No.9 in recent weeks.
Higuain is reportedly the main target, having worked under Sarri at Napoli, scoring 38 goals in 42 matches during the 2015/16 campaign.
The Argentinian is currently on loan at AC Milan from Juventus, creating minor complications within Chelsea’s attempts to sign him.
It was originally hoped Higuain would join Chelsea before Friday so he would be available for selection for Saturday’s London derby against Arsenal at the Emirates.
But the deadline came and went and Higuain remained a Juventus player at Milan, but it is beginning to appear the career interests of several other strikers around Europe are invested in the move.
Chelsea’s set for another transfer merry-go-round?
As current Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti recently pointed out, Higuain’s move to Chelsea is reportedly one link in a chain of three transfer deals.
“Three common interests,” Ancelotti stated, so what are they?
AC Milan would be exposing themselves to risk should they terminate Higuain’s loan until they find an adequate replacement for the Argentinian.
Higuain is Milan’s top-scorer this season, with eight goals and 21-year-old Patrick Cutrone, one behind on seven, may still be too young to replace him as the bearer of attacking burdens.
As a result, Milan have been linked with signing Krzysztof Piątek from fellow Serie A side Genoa.
The 23-year-old is enjoying a very good debut season with Genoa, scoring 13 goals so far in Serie A – second only to Cristiano Ronaldo – and has already been linked with the likes of Barcelona.
But Milan are now in the driving seat and, according to Gianluca Di Marzio, are expected to wrap up the deal in the coming days.
Piatek joining Milan would free up Higuain to join Chelsea on the proposed six-month loan deal until the end of the season.
Sarri’s dream man, Higuain is certain to be Chelsea’s starting striker if the deal does go through, allowing Hazard to switch back to his favoured left-wing position.
And because Sarri has already expressed an unwillingness to place two strikers on Chelsea’s bench, with Hazard leading the line, Morata is set to be the final part of this transfer merry-go-round.
Morata has been linked with a move away from Chelsea since the start of the season amid rumours of unhappiness in England, having failed to adapt to the physical nature of the game.
Should Piatek and Higuain finalise their moves, Morata is expected to join Atletico Madrid, returning to the city of his birth and completing the domino dynamic at the heart of this transfer saga.
Despite making a name for himself with rivals Real Madrid, Morata actually started his career in Atletico’s academy before joining Getafe as a 15-year-old.
So what does Giroud have to do with all this?
Just one year ago, Chelsea found themselves in a very similar situation.
Then-manager Antonio Conte was not impressed by Morata or Michy Batshuayi. Having been sensationally linked with Andy Carroll and Peter Crouch, Chelsea then set their eyes on Arsenal forward Giroud.
But despite his lack of game time, dealing with Arsenal was not going to be simple.
Arsenal insisted on bringing in a replacement for the Frenchman, and they had Borussia Dortmund forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in mind.
Just like the Gunners, the Bundesliga side also needed to replace their top scorer. And so in stepped Chelsea, loaning Batshuayi to Dortmund so they could sell Aubameyang to Arsenal. Thus, Giroud was free to move to Stamford Bridge, where he can probably expect to be traded for another centre-forward this time next year.