Arsenal set to confirm £22 million deal for Gonzalo Higuaín
Arsenal are finalising negotiations with Gonzalo Higuaín to make the Argentine international both their record signing and the highest paid player in their history.
An experienced world-class striker in the prime years of his career had always been the priority for manager Arsène Wenger during this transfer window and, boosted by Arsenal's enhanced spending power, he is poised to pay £22 million for Higuaín.
Footage of the 25-year-old at Madrid airport was circulating on the internet on Wednesday night and he is imminently expected to undergo a medical and confirm personal terms on a deal that will stretch Arsenal’s wage structure to £130,000 a week.
With Arsenal having planned to buy Olivier Giroud last season even before they sold Robin van Persie to Manchester United, Higuaín is effectively the direct replacement for their former captain.
Giroud is still very much part of Arsenal’s plans but he is seen as more of a squad player and Wenger also believes that he needs more time to adapt to the Premier League.
Wenger does not expect Higuaín to require much of a settling-in period and, within his usual 4-2-3-1 system, he is already earmarked to start as the main central striker.
During seven seasons in La Liga at Real Madrid, Higuaín scored 106 goals in 188 games and won six trophies, including three league titles.
With Higuaín still only 25 and Van Persie turning 30 next month, Wenger would feel that the £23 million he received from United for Van Persie has been used to strengthen Arsenal in the long-term.
Arsenal are also seriously considering a £1.5million offer to Queens Park Rangers for Julio Cesar.
The Brazil goalkeeper, 33, has been earmarked as a player who could step straight into the team but potentially still aid the development of Wojciech Szczesny.
Arsenal also want to sign a holding midfield player and, having been rebuffed by Bayer Leverkusen over a potential £19million deal for Lars Bender, are assessing options that include Toulouse’s Étienne Capoue and Everton's Marouane Fellaini.
Gareth Barry, who is out of contract at Manchester City next year, is a cheaper and more short-term option.
Chelsea have also been looking for a central midfielder and have agreed an £8 million fee with Vitesse Arnhem for Holland international Marco van Ginkel.