Why Juventus is willing to pay €90M for Higuain

The Bianconeri are ready to make the Argentine the third most expensive player in history in the hope of ending their two-decade wait for Champions League glory.

Juventuswants to win the Champions League at all costs — even if that means paying €90 million ($99M) for a player who will turn 29 before the turn of the year.

The Bianconeri’s decision to activate the buy-out clause in Gonzalo Higuain’s Napoli contract, which could yet see other players moving in the other direction, has shocked some observers given their previous parsimony in the transfer market. But this is a club driven by the desire to return to the summit of European football and Juve is prepared to make some calculated gambles in order to make that happen.

It is now 20 years since Juventus last lifted the Champions League, which is an agonizing drought for a club of its size. Juve have been a beaten finalist twice in the interim, losing on penalties to AC Milan in 2003 before suffering a 3-1 defeat to a brilliant Barcelona side in Berlin just over 12 months ago.

Juve’s run to the final of 2014-15 final was a surprise, with the Old Lady overcoming Real Madrid in the semis, but it convinced everyone at Corso Galileo Ferraris that the club was just one or two world-class players away from continental glory.

Signing Miralem Pjanic was a masterstroke. The Bosnian playmaker is, at 26, at the peak of his powers and offers the kind of craft and ingenuity that Juve have been lacking in midfield — particularly since the departure of Andrea Pirlo. Landing a player of such quality for €10 million less than Manchester United paid Borussia Dortmund for Henrikh Mkhitaryan represents a bargain in the current market.

The same could not be said of the signing of Higuain. The Argentine has been acquired with the sole intention of winning the Champions League. It has long been felt that Juve has been lacking a prolific No. 9. Now the club will soon have the man who broke the single-season scoring record for Serie A.

But Juve is not making Higuain the third-most expensive player of all time to win a sixth successive Scudetto. The club will privately view another domestic title as a formality. The former Madrid man has been brought onboard to deliver the Champions League, with the Bianconeri confident that he will form a formidable front line with compatriot Paulo Dybala, the 22-year-old livewire who enjoyed a sensational debut season in Turin following last summer’s switch from Palermo.

“Higuain is a great player who guarantees an important step up in quality for Juve,” Italy icon Paolo Rossi told La Gazzetta dello Sport on Sunday. “Now they can really go on to win the Champions League.

“Dybala is extraordinary and can play alongside anyone, so I’m sure he’ll form a crazy partnership with Higuain. They can become one of the best strike partnerships in Bianconeri history.”

The imminent departure of Paul Pogba to Manchester United threatened to undermine Juve’s attempts to re-establish itself among Europe’s elite and Manchester City’s interest in Leonardo Bonucci also suggested the Bianconeri were a big fish swimming with sharks.

The Italian champions are presently in the process of tying Bonucci down to a new deal, one that will earn the playmaking center back €5 million a season after tax, but it is the move for Higuain that is of greatest significance.

It is a statement signing — a message to the rest of Europe’s elite that Juve means business. Big business, as underlined not only by the €90 million transfer fee but also the fact that Higuain will earn €7 million after tax for the next four years.

It is a colossal investment in a 28-year-old who has a reputation for missing big chances in big games — but, as far as Juve is concerned, if Higuain fires the club to Champions League glory, it will be money well spent.

The original version of this story which was published by goal.com Serie A can be viewed here.

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