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Talking Tactics

Higuain has the skills to prosper at Chelsea

28 Jan 2019
Gonzalo Higuain, FA Cup action

Adrian Clarke says the striker's finishing and link-up play suit Blues' attacking wide men

Adrian Clarke looks at the impact January signings will have at their new clubs.

Gonzalo Higuain 

After spending more than a decade plundering goals in Spain and Italy, Gonzalo Higuain joins Chelsea on loan with a reputation as one of European football’s most lethal strikers. 

There is understandable excitement at his reunion with Maurizio Sarri.

In their only season together at Napoli, in 2015/16, the Argentinian enjoyed the best season of his career, scoring an incredible 36 goals in Serie A.

He enjoyed continued success with Juventus, but arrives at Stamford Bridge on the back of a frustrating loan spell at AC Milan.

Instant improvement?

Will Higuain be an upgrade on Alvaro Morata for a head coach hoping to improve on a goal output that is only the sixth best in the division?

During 2018/19, Higuain has marginally outscored Morata in domestic league action, but his minutes-per-goal ratio and chance-conversion rates are below the Spaniard's.

He received plenty of chances at San Siro, but was uncharacteristically wasteful in front of goal.

That said, the striker’s pedigree is outstanding. 

Since he joined Juventus in 2016/17 Higuain has been a fantastic team player, linking moves nicely and delivering more than his fair share of goals. 

Higuain v Chelsea strikers since 2016/17
Player Goals Shots Shot conv. rate Mins
Higuain 46 292 15.8% 7066
Morata 31 169 18.3% 4341
Giroud 20 109 18.4% 2809
Playing to his strengths

His finishing has not been as clinical as during his time at Napoli.

But reuniting with Sarri and linking up with Chelsea’s wonderful wide players could spark a revival that would make him one of the league’s most dangerous strikers in the coming months.

Higuain is superb at assessing space inside the penalty area. Throughout his career his subtle movements have freed him up to latch on to crosses or passes into the penalty area.

These qualities are sure to make him a threat.

Poacher supreme

When Eden Hazard, Willian, Pedro or Callum Hudson-Odoi reach the byline, expect Higuain to attack cutbacks by running on to balls from deep.

On the edge of the box he is dangerous too, playing sharp one-twos and receiving passes on the half-turn within the final 25 yards of the pitch.

Because he is a good reader of the game and can score with either foot, defenders cannot afford to leave him too much space.

At 31, Higuain will face a challenge to replicate his Napoli form, but Chelsea have a striker with wonderful credentials, for whom the Premier League could bring about a renaissance.

Also in this series

Part 1: Nasri adding threat to West Ham attack
Part 2: Solanke can thrive in support striker role

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