04 July 2013

78% chance of Higuain as a Gunner; a physical on Thursday?

No betting sites are accepting any more bets on Gonzalo Higuain moving to Arsenal, and a report at The Guardian site today suggests that Higuain could come to London as early as Thursday for a medical. The site transfermrkt.com has raised the probability of the signing to 78%, up four points from a yesterday. According to the report, the deal on offer looks to be at or around £23m, an apparent compromise between Real Madrid's desire for £25m and our reported offer of £22m. They got him seven years ago for around £12m, so this would be a nice return on their investment. Such a deal would yield a weekly salary of around £100,000, making him one of the club's top-earners without threatening to create a wage gap that could cause some discontent in players already in the squad.

When will Higuain sign?

The rumors flying around include Higuain boarding a plane for London. Those of you who have voted for a July 5th signing in the poll (37% as of this morning) could be crowing much louder should this happen. It's odd to call this a long, drawn-out transfer, but that's what it feels like, even if I only can find evidence dating back to March 2013 but no earlier. Should the signing happen before the weekend, it would be only five days into the official transfer window and one of the earliest signings we've seen in the last few years except that of Podolski, whose signing was announced at the team site   on 30 April 2012, and Giroud, whose signing was on 26 June 2012. Most of our other signings have happened (or been announced) very late in the transfer window, something detailed here if you're curious.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let's remember that nothing is official yet. There. That's said. With it out of the way, let's pretend for a bit and ponder what it means once it becomes official:
  • Statement of intent: signing Higuain is an unquestionable statement of intent. We're bringing in La Liga's 3rd-most prolific scorer over the last seven years, a player for the world's largest club. He's not Messi or Ronaldo, to be sure, but signing him is a strong statement about our ambitions. Without making too much of it, it's the kind of signing that can draw the attention of other players, encouraging them to take a closer look at following his lead.
  • New approach: in the past, not only have most signings involved relatively unknown players, they've usually happened largely below the radar and late in the window. Rumors and discussions around Higuain coming to Arsenal have been front-page fodder for weeks, if not months. Whether this signals a new approach on Wenger's part or the nature of signing a big name, this signing would mark a shift in how transfers are handled, one that might further open the door to other high-profile signings.
  • Competition: both within the squad and against other teams, adding Higuain could have a dramatic impact on everyone's play. He and Giroud may vie for playing time, and even if Higuain emerges as a clear #1 over Giroud, everyone should benefit from the addition. Should he reclaim his 20 goals a year pace, we could find ourselves scoring earlier in matches, unlocking opponents who might otherwise stifle or thwart us and giving us more room to play aggressively instead of tentatively. This, of course, would lead to fewer losses and fewer draws, putting more pressure on teams that have managed to finish above us in the last few years.
As I've discussed in the past, I would love this signing for the reasons above as well as for others: We're not blowing up our wage-structure, we're not bringing in an outsized ego, and even if we're setting aside the "we don't buy superstars" motto for the moment, it doesn't feel to me as if we're abandoning it. Good God, please let this happen by Friday—I don't know if I can take much more!

Before closing, I'll put out another call for votes in this year's YAMAS awards. This blog has been nominated in the "Best New Arsenal Blog" category, and I hope you'll take a minute to complete the survey—it's seven questions, and Woolwich 1886 is in question #3. Thanks!