Scouting Report: Gonzalo Higuain

June 24, 2013 in La Liga, Premier League, Transfers

It seems that we have finally arrived at the moment that could bring some real joy to Arsenal fans after many disillusioned summers of transfers. Gonzalo Higuain has agreed terms with Arsenal, which in effect means that a transfer could be completed in the early days of the transfer window opening, as reported by the Guardian. There is no doubt that Arsenal fans will be licking their lips at the prospect of this transfer, but how will he fit into the structure of Arsenal’s formation?

The Argentine is an out and out striker who boasts a record of scoring 122 goals in 266 games for Real Madrid over seven seasons. When you break this statistic down and analyse his goal to games ratio each season, his highest tally in a season for Real Madrid stands at 29 goals in 42 games back in 2009-2010. That is a pretty good achievement considering his time at Madrid has consisted of him having to duel for a starting spot with big name strikers like Raul, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Karim Benzema, all of whom could be considered bigger names. Having proved to be a proficient striker that can bring a consistent threat, Arsenal fans can be really optimistic about this signing; a consistent threat is something Arsenal have lacked since Robin van Persie’s departure.

He possesses speed in the last third of the pitch, and has a very good striking ability in and around the box. Even though he lost some of his pace after his surgery, Higuain is still a competent finisher that can score goals comfortably with both feet; finishing is his main strength, a skill that can benefit Arsenal greatly. His eye for goal has been ever-present ever since his arrival in the footballing scene, and Arsenal will be able to turn to this hitman to pull them out of scenarios where they are flustered and lacking a real threat. There could be the possibility of Wenger opting for the return of the 4-4-2 formation he used during the days of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp; an interesting prospect, as playing Higuain with Giroud together could offer a variance of attack. On the other hand, a combination of Walcott and Higuain could also be a very interesting partnership, as their alternate styles could well in fact complement each other, and be very fruitful for Arsenal. Either way, Higuain can play as a centre forward with Giroud, Podolski or Walcott, or he could lead the line and provide the clinical finishing Arsenal very much need.

He has shown the ability to link up play with his team-mates and create some assists in the process as well. The midfield trio of Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere and Mikel Arteta are always looking to supply the ball to the striker, breaking the opposing defence by linking play with the forward up front; Higuain fits this bill perfectly because he already has the experience of playing with highly creative stars at Real Madrid. Furthermore, communication won’t be a barrier as he speaks the same native language as Cazorla and Arteta.

However, where players have notable strengths, they also have some weaknesses that can’t be ignored. Higuain isn’t very good in the air, so delivering aerial balls to him won’t be the ideal game plan (save that for Giroud), and this can be pinpointed as his main weakness. In addition to this, there is the possibility that he could struggle with the pace of the Premier League as it is a more demanding and quicker league than La Liga.

All in all, there are positive signs that make Higuain a good fit for Arsenal. At the age of 25, he is still fairly young with a lot to prove and with the reported fee of £22million, this could be the marquee signing needed to lift the morale of the fans and to demonstrate that Arsenal mean business.