Gonzalo Higuaín to arrive in London for formalities of Chelsea loan move

• Striker will join initially for six months from Juventus
• Maurizio Sarri also hopes to sign a midfielder this month

Gonzalo Higuaín is expected in London over the next 48 hours to undertake a medical and complete the formalities of his move to Chelsea from Juventus, initially on a six-month loan, with Maurizio Sarri still keen for the striker to be joined by a midfielder at Stamford Bridge.

Higuaín, who has spent the first half of the season on loan at Milan, has said his goodbyes to his Rossoneri teammates having pushed to be reunited with Sarri, under whose stewardship he scored 36 goals for Napoli in Serie A two seasons ago.

The 31-year-old would join until the end of this campaign, though there is the potential for the arrangement to be extended for a further 12 months. It has been suggested in Italy that, according to the deal struck with Juve, Chelsea would be compelled to retain the Argentina international if he fulfils certain goal and appearance targets.

Sarri claimed he had instructed the influential Chelsea board member and de facto director of football, Marina Granovskaia, that Higuaín was his preferred option up front when they spoke two weeks ago and, uncharacteristically, namechecked the director four times in his media duties on Friday.

“Marina knows my opinion on how to improve the team,” he said. “I am confident because I know Marina is working very hard, but I don’t know the market at all. I want to be focused on the matches. So I don’t call her every evening, otherwise I’d spend all my mental energy on the market.”

The Italian is still hopeful a midfielder will also be bought to fill the void left by Cesc Fàbregas, who has joined Monaco, not least because Jorginho, whom Sarri considers his only option in the middle, has recently shown signs of fatigue. “We need a replacement [for Fàbregas], in my opinion,” he said. “Marina knows very well my opinion. So I’m not frustrated at the moment.”

Yet it remains to be seen whether Chelsea follow up their initial interest in either Nicolò Barella at Cagliari or, more likely, Zenit St Petersburg’s Leandro Paredes. Deals were agreed in principle in initial talks with the players’ respective clubs as the Premier League side considered their options, though it is understood members of Chelsea’s hierarchy are not necessarily convinced another midfielder is required. They already boast players such as Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and they could attempt to make Mateo Kovacic’s loan from Real Madrid permanent in the summer.

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They are conscious, too, that recruiting another midfielder may block a potential pathway into the first team for Mason Mount, on loan at Derby County, or others. With Callum Hudson-Odoi’s future beyond January far from certain in the wake of persistent interest from Bayern Munich, Chelsea will not necessarily want to frustrate another promising youngster’s route to first-team involvement.

They may have to deflect interest from Paris Saint-Germain in Paredes, amid suggestions the French champions have offered around £34m for the Argentinian.

The hope is that Higuaín, who earns around £170,000 a week at Juventus, will have completed his move in time for the second leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday, and his arrival should see Álvaro Morata return to Spain for the rest of the campaign. The striker is coveted by Atlético Madrid, where he began his career in the youth set-up. For now, Morata is technically available for Saturday’s game at Arsenal. “For him, I think it’s a very difficult moment,” Sarri said. “But it’s normal for a player in January to be involved in the market.”


Dominic Fifield

The GuardianTramp

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