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Higuain to Chelsea? How Abramovich can take advantage of Juventus blunder

COMMENT: So what came first? The approach or the affirmation? Because inside the very same 24 hours, we had Gonzalo Higuain declaring his Chelsea ambitions - just as news broke of brother Nicolas discussing terms with Marina Granovskaia.

A coincidence? Some sort of brotherly telepathy? C'mon. Most likely, it's the pair of 'em getting together and laying the groundwork for a move to London.

For now, we know Granovskaia, taking a break from her marathon search for Antonio Conte's successor, put in a call to Nicolas Higuain to let him know Chelsea are interested. And the family, within hours, responded - through the player himself.

Celebrating the birth of daughter, Alma, Higuain said from Argentina: "For now I feel good and I'm happy at Juventus, my daughter for now he will grow up in Turin, but I would like to play in the Premier League."

And just to emphasise the point, he added: "Of course I like it (the Premier League), it's the most beautiful league in the world and I'd like to play in it."

If Roman Abramovich, the Blues owner, was seeking a public show of commitment - the Argentine could have done little more. After the meeting with Nicolas, the feedback from Granovskaia will have been positive. But nothing will have affirmed Higuain's eagerness to see the move happen than his comments last night.

In contrast to her manager search, for Granovskaia, this deal writes itself. Chelsea already know Higuain's price thanks to Juve's move last week for Inter Milan captain Mauro Icardi.

An offer of €50m plus Higuain was tabled - and left there. With Icardi's contract carrying a €110m buyout clause, the math is easy. For Chelsea, a deal is there to be done.

Massimo Moratti confirmed Juve's offer last Wednesday. The former Inter president still knows the inner workings of the Nerazzurri boardroom.

"Surely there is a difference in age and we must take it into account, but the offer from the Bianconeri has considered everything, it is not an offer to forget," he declared.

"But at the same time it serves to reason that for us perhaps Icardi is indispensable. We must be responsible for Inter to make a decision like this. I can speak as a fan and I would like it that Icardi remains."

So what, 50 million quid? For a player of Higuain's class? He'll turn 31 in December, but at today's market rates no-one could argue Chelsea would be paying over the odds.

A signing to ease supporter fears over Abramovich's commitment. A signing to convince Eden Hazard to stick around. And one to completely transform Chelsea's attack.

They would be prising away the most dominant force in Serie A over the past five years. 111 goals over those five Serie A campaigns with Juve and before them, Napoli. But his influence goes further than merely goals. Much further.

A Bianconeri source told Tribalfootball.com this morning: "He's not just about goals. Higuain makes others play better. He's a midfield director who plays as a striker. He rotates through positions. Circulates the ball. He leads others.

"Higuain is always involved."

Indeed, while those inside the Juve boardroom like director John Elkann and GM Beppe Marotta have left the door ajar to Higuain's sale, many on the coaching staff have real concerns.

"If he goes," adds our source, "we lose something essential from the past two years. He's not just a goalscorer."

But those upon high see the chance to cash in.

"Anything can happen," replied Fiat supremo Elkann when asked about Higuain's situation. "But it is difficult during a World Cup. Normally we must wait (until after the tournament)."

Another year older, with just the 16 goals last season has Elkann and his fellow board members feeling justified in touting Higuain across Europe. But those close to the Argentine, including our source, insist the form lapse at the backend of last season was understandable.

Alma is his first born. Indeed, it was this reason that Max Allegri held back Higuain for their Copa Italia run. The coach knew Higuain was worried about his girlfriend, Lara Wechsler, and gave him time away to help them cope. Since February, Higuain had been running around with boots 'Gonzo, Lara, Alma'. Alma's arrival, just two weeks ago, was a relief to all connected to Higuain - not least Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli. The forward, so weighed down anticipating his daughter's birth, now travels to Russia inspired.

"For me, personally, it was a very positive year," beamed Higuain last week. "As you get older, your body changes - and you must be aware of it. But I think now I am in my greatest peak of form."

Of course, Juve's powerbrokers disagree. Which is just what Abramovich and Granovskaia are counting on.

50 million quid for the best goalscorer on the planet. To convince Hazard and Thibaut Courtois to stay. This deal writes itself. Especially with the Higuain brothers pulling the strings at their end.


Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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