Arsenal are exploring the possibility of signing Gonzalo Higuain but will not remotely consider meeting the Napoli striker’s £78.8million release clause.
The Italian club have indicated to the Gunners that Higuain is available this summer as manager Arsene Wenger scours Europe to find a top class centre-forward to spearhead Arsenal’s Premier League title push next season.
Higuain has a release clause of 94.4m euros, which due to the slump in the value of the pound since Britain’s referendum vote to leave the European Union, now equates to approximately £10m more than earlier in the year.
Sources in Italy claim Arsenal have expressed an interest in pursuing a deal for the 28-year-old and that due to Napoli’s desire to sell, they could drop the asking price to around 60m euros (£50m).
However, given Higuain’s age the Gunners are unlikely to part with such a considerable sum, which led to a suggestion from the Italians that Olivier Giroud could be included in a part-exchange deal to help bridge the gap in valuations.
Giroud’s agent Mickael Manuello reportedly told Italian outlet Radio Crc: “As of today, Giroud is an Arsenal forward. If they ask him to leave, then we’d evaluate the situation.
“There would be no fear for Olivier to go to Napoli, as we’re talking about a magnificent place. In Naples, my client could have a wonderful lifestyle, not to mention that Maurizio Sarri’s style of football would get the best out of a striker like him.”
Reports say Arsenal are yet to show any willingness to sell Giroud and would instead prefer a new striker to come in and share the responsibility of leading their attack next season. Giroud would have to indicate he wanted to leave before any departure is considered; he has two years left on his current contract at Emirates Stadium.
Wenger has monitored Higuain for years and tabled an offer in 2013 before the player left Real Madrid to join Napoli. The club have been forced to reassess their options after Jamie Vardy turned down a move from Leicester City, as revealed by this newspaper last month.
Arsenal’s bid for Vardy raised eyebrows at the time but it was born from a decision that Wenger’s longer term targets were all more than twice as expensive. Vardy’s release clause was in the region of just £20m but Higuain and Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata, another striker on Wenger’s wish-list, will cost much more