Should Arsenal’s purchase of Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain prove successful, it could prove to be arguably one of the most important signings Arsene Wenger has ever sanctioned since arriving at Highbury in the mid-nineties.
From a purely tactical point of view, Higuain would be the prolific and reliable goalscorer Arsenal lacked last season, after allowing Robin Van Persie to pitch his tent up in Manchester, where the Dutchman steered United to a record 20th league title.
Obviously, though, even with Van Persie in their ranks, the Gunners almost never looked like title challengers for, to wheel out one of the most over used cliches in the world, football is first and foremost a team sport.
So, one might ask, how would replace a goalscorer with another goalscorer affect the club’s fortunes so radically, considering that the supporting cast is pretty much unchanged?
For a start, Higuain’s arrival would be a formidable statement of intent by Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board, one the Arsenal fans have been craving for over the last four of five years, when the North Londoners turned from title challengers to something increasingly resembling a feeder club.
Replacing Cesc Fabregas and Robin Van Persie with the likes of Gervinho and Olivier Giroud is like swapping a Glastonbury ticket for a karaoke at the local pub – it might be interesting, fun even, but it definitely won’t be the same thing – an exercise Arsenal have indulged into time and again in recent years.
Investing a club-record sum for a striker at the peak of his powers – the Argentine would be Arsenal’s first £20m-plus signing – is the perfect tonic Arsene Wenger needs to restore his team as a credible challenger, both domestically and in Europe.
Arsenal know how big a mental impact a signing can have all too well, after seeing the effect Robin Van Persie had on Manchester United last season. After losing the title to City in cruel fashion in 2011, United were by many considered to be a waning power, but the Dutchman’s arrival reinvigorated an environment that had gone somewhat flat after the huge disappointment suffered only a couple of months earlier.
Furthermore, the signing proved to the fans as much as to the rest of the league that United were still capable of attracting top class players and were relishing a challenge as much as anybody else – something Arsenal should be looking to emulate.
With Alisher Usmanov, Arsenal’s second-biggest shareholder, claiming that Arsenal could join the club of the Premier League’s big spenders, Higuain could be only the first step for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal in this summer’s transfer window.
It’s a step, though, whose essentiality can’t be underestimated, for the Argentine would not only bring with him a deadly eye for goal that has seen him scoring 106 goals in 188 league games in his six-and-a-half years at Bernabeu – among the players who have scored more than 50 goals since 2007, Higuain’s shot conversion rate (28.31) is second only to Lionel Messi’s (29.45) – but would also demonstrate that Arsenal are again able to attract top players, possibly paving the way for more big names.
Arsene Wenger’s staunch defense of his principles has – almost – proved to be his and Arsenal’s downfall but with the United, City and Chelsea all changing manager, the Frenchman finds himself in an enviable position of stability.
Should he make the most of it, by finally agreeing at spending money on world class players, the Emirates might welcome its first trophy.
Arsenal fans, are you happy with Higuain? Is Arsene Wenger the right man to spend the money, Ushmanov said the board will make available? Who would you like to see at the Emirates next season? We want your views so have your say below or get involved on our Facebook page or Twitter feed.