02 May 2013

The Gonzalo Higuain domino theory

Real Madrid's general manager Jose Angel Sanchez said today "we need two number nines of a high level...we have Benzema and Higuain. Higuain will leave, Benzema will stay, and two others will come." I'm not here to suggest that Arsenal should target Higuain, although we could do worse. In just 16 appearances, he's tallied 13 goals. I'm sure that, by the time I finish typing this sentence, the rumors linking him to Arsenal will fly. However, we all have more important issues to deal with, like winning actual games. The rumor mill will spin; that's what it does. Should Higuain find his way here, we'll find out at some point in August, I'm sure.

However, the chain of events that a Higuain departure could set off might very well tip the scales in our favor even if he doesn't come to the Emirates. Following up on Sanchez's comment, he says that "two other [high level] nines will come." Who knows what he has in mind or how certain he is of what he says? In a dream scenario, Higuain comes here. A near-second sees him go to PSG or Juve or Dortmund, anywhere but the Prem. As a result, Real looks to sign two new strikers (I'm not sure why Sanchez says that Real needs two more if Benzema is staying, unless he means to imply that Benzema is not good enough). Pardon the digression. Gareth Bale has been mentioned time and again in connection with a move to Real Madrid, as has Man City's Sergio Agüero. In either case, we'd see a competitor lose one of its top scorers. Man City is unlikely to be troubled too much, as they'll still have Tévez and Džeko, not to mention piles of oily cash to splurge on whoever else they please.

It's Spurs who have to worry. Each award Bale earns as an individual seems only to highlight how much of one-man team Spurs is. This problem will only loom larger should Spurs fall out of the Champions League again this season. After the mammoth campaign Bale has had, falling short might force him into deciding that it's time to shop around a bit. He might play for our arch-rivals, but I'd hate to see him go. I know we are one of the 'big clubs' of Europe, but I always hate to see a player join one of the big clubs rather than staying where he started, developed, was discovered, and so on. We've been victim to it, so I don't see anything wrong with sympathizing with Spurs should it happen to them. Zinedine Zidane has come out to suggest that Real might be willing to offer as much as £60million for him, money they might very well have on hand should Ronaldo leave the Bernabeu (himself drawing a fee of perhaps £70million). If he returns to Old Trafford, it doesn't change much about Man U's status. They'll just score even more often, but a win only brings three points no matter the margin. It might be enough to keep Man U in the Champions League past the group stage next time around, though (couldn't resist mentioning that even it is a little petty of me).

To make a long story short, we'll avoid all of the various permutations of what might happen at Real's end: Mourinho is all but gone, Ronaldo has already said he won't renew his contract past 2015, Casillas's name has been bandied about, and Higuain is also apparently about to leave. By the end of the summer, we might see Ronaldo at Man U, Higuain with us or Man City, Bale at Real, Mourinho at Chelsea, Rooney at PSG...it's too much to keep track of.  Therefore, if we just keep our house in order, win these last three games, and strengthen the squad with one or two strong signings, I don't really care what happens at these other clubs. We've shown that we can respond to upheaval and continue to contend with the best of them.