Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus always looked likely to push Gonzalo Higuaín towards the exit door in Turin but few would have predicted the Argentine forward’s switch to AC Milan.
Juve’s decision to bring Leonardo Bonucci back to the club after one season in Milan will see Higuaín and young defender Mattia Caldara move in the opposite direction.
After undergoing medicals on Thursday, Milan have now confirmed the transfer.
“AC Milan announces the signing of the players Gonzalo Higuaín and Mattia Caldara from Juventus,” a club statement read.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) August 2, 2018
“Gonzalo and Mattia are two important pieces of the new era for the club.
“Gonzalo Higuaín arrives at AC Milan on an expensive loan deal until June 30, 2019 with the right of redemption.
“Mattia Caldara finally arrives as part of an exchange on par with Leonardo Bonucci, who returns to Juventus. The 24-year-old defender has signed a contract that binds him to AC Milan until 30 June 2023.”
Bonucci and Caldara is more or less a straight swap with Higuaín moving on a reported one-year loan deal worth an initial €18 million but with the Rossoneri able to make the deal permanent for €36 million.
Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri appeared satisfied with the club’s business despite many questioning the wisdom behind shipping out one of Italy’s best defensive prospects and strengthening a rival with a proven Serie A goalscorer.
“Leonardo [Bonucci] is back after one year. He is an important player,” Allegri told Sky Sport Italy.
“In six months he has not changed at all. Caldara is younger and along with [Alessio] Romagnoli and [Daniele] Rugani is part of the best defending trio in Italy. I am sorry but the circumstances forced us to let him go.
“As for Higuaín, I thank him for these two seasons during which he gave his best. Milan have signed a great striker, for sure.”
That is for sure, however much many people wish to focus on Higuaín’s high-profile misses. The 30-year-old scored 40 goals in 73 Serie A apperances for Juventus since making his record-breaking switch from Napoli and although it didn’t result in the Bianconeri lifting the Champions League, Higuaín lived up to his €90 million price tag.
For all the jibes over his weight or tendency to go missing on big occasions, Higuaín’s record in Italy is staggering. 121 goals in 199 games, two Serie A titles, 3 Coppa Italias and a record-equalling tally of 36 league goals in a single season (level with Gino Rossetti’s record from 1929) for Napoli in 2016.
Milan finished sixth last season but have undergone another ambitious summer of spending and in capturing Higuaín the Rossoneri have exactly the player they have been so sorely lacking.