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Gonzalo Higuain: Chelsea target superstar striker but how does he compare to Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud?

Chelsea are close to signing striker Gonzalo Higuain on loan with an option to buy, according to reports.

The Blues are having to overcome the difficulty of dealing with Juventus and current loan side AC Milan to secure a deal.

AC Milan ace could replace Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud at Chelsea.

Higuain, 31, still has obstacles to overcome to get a move sealed with Tuttosport suggesting the Premier League side’s opening offer has been rejected, despite the player’s brother being in London, seemingly to thrash out personal terms.

The Argentine is being chased as Maurizio Sarri looks for a proven goalscorer and understandably the Italian has turned to the player who, at Napoli in 2015/16, scored 38 goals in 42 games under his tutelage.

But his ability is on the wane as he enters the latter stages of his career, so how does he compare with Sarri’s current options, Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud, this season?

talkSPORT.com takes a look at the statistics…


Goals

Strikers will always be judged on how often they stick the ball in the back of the net and Giroud more than anyone knows that.

At Arsenal the Frenchman had a double figure goal tally in all five full Premier League campaigns he played for the club but was still considered profligate by supporters and eventually ditched, despite some clutch cameos.

This season he’s only managed one goal in the 607 league minutes he has played in six starts and 10 substitute appearances.

Team-mate Morata, meanwhile, has five strikes in 943 minutes, which includes 11 starts and five substitute roles.

But Higuain hardly seems the ideal replacement when he has only netted six goals for AC Milan in 1280 minutes on the pitch.

Higuain vs Morata vs Giroud

  • Gonzalo Higuain – 0.4 league goals per 90 minutes
  • Alvaro Morata – 0.5 league goals per 90 minutes
  • Olivier Giroud – 0.1 league goals per 90 minutes

It should also be noted all three players have been getting minutes in the Europa League and they have all been more prolific.

Higuain has two goals in 450 minutes of action, Morata has netted the same amount in just 233 minutes, and Giroud leads the way with an impressive four in 309 minutes, although the level of opposition has been low.

Shots

If you don’t buy a ticket, you won’t win the raffle goes the old adage – and it’s right.

Europe’s top marksmen are all those who take a high proportion of shots every 90 minutes; Cristiano Ronaldo is averaging 6.9 with Juventus, Lionel Messi has 5.3, Sergio Aguero 4.7, Kylian Mbappe 4.6, and Harry Kane 3.5.

So how do the Chelsea men and Higuain fare when it comes to attempts on goal?

Higuain vs Morata vs Giroud

  • Gonzalo Higuain – 3.9 shots per 90 in Serie A
  • Alvaro Morata – 3.3 shots per 90 in the Premier League
  • Olivier Giroud – 3.3 shots per 90 in the Premier League

By the looks of things, Higuain may suffer a dip in output if he were to join Chelsea which, logically, isn’t much of a surprise give the amount they play through Eden Hazard in attacking areas, which allows him 2.8 shots per 90 in the English top flight.

Higuain’s arrival could see the Blues increase their shooting from distance as well given he attempts 1.5 shots per 90 minutes from outside of the box, whereas Morata and Giroud take just 0.7 and 0.3 respectively.

This would, perhaps obviously, see a dip in attempts from close range given Higuain has attempted just 0.1 shots per game in the six yard box, in contrast to the 0.4 and 0.3 of Morata and Giroud.

Accuracy, though, leaves everyone wanting, with the Spaniard edging out his possible replacement and his understudy this season.

Higuain vs Morata vs Giroud

  • Gonzalo Higuain – 1.4 shots on target per 90, 1.2 off target and 1.5 blocked


  • Alvaro Morata – 1.5 shots on target per 90, 1 off target, and 0.9 blocked
  • Olivier Giroud – 1 shot on target per 90, 1.6 off target, and 0.6 blocked

Loss of possession

Nothing gets the crowd on the back of a striker more than him losing the ball in attacking areas – it’s frustrating to watch.

In this regard, the Argentine looks like he will provide improvement over his Spanish rival, while Giroud still holds his own having been dispossessed just 0.6 times per 90 – an excellent total compared to Morata’s 2.1 and Higuain’s 1.8. Giroud has also recorded fewer poor touches, giving a nod to his talents as a old school No.9.

Higuain vs Morata vs Giroud

  • Gonzalo Higuain – 2.5 bad controls per 90 minutes
  • Alvaro Morata – 2.7 bad controls per 90 minutes
  • Olivier Giroud – 2.2 bad controls per 90 minutes

Aerial ability

Morata and Giroud are both very much traditional ‘big men’ measuring in at 6ft2in and 6ft4in, respectively, while Higuain is a touch smaller at 6ft1in.

As you would expect, the current AC Milan ace doesn’t add as much in the air with just 1.8 aerial duels per 90 minutes.

Morata has managed 4.4 and Giroud an impressive 5.9, with the latter also managing to win four per 90 minutes – far better than Higuain’s 0.7 and Morata’s 1.7.

This could see Chelsea alter their style if Higuain arrives to keep the ball on the floor a lot more than they have previously.

Build-up play

In the modern era it’s vital for strikers to help create goals as well as put them in the back of the net.

Chelsea, despite some recent difficulties, are a fluid side and could do with a more engaged forward to aid and assist with the wingers and No.8s.

Higuain offers the ability to play both long and short passes while Morata and Giroud are relatively two dimensional, offering short passes and lay-offs, while the duo are also more prone to errors than the Argentine.

Higuain vs Morata vs Giroud

Long balls

  • Gonzalo Higuain – 2.3 accurate per 90 and 0.3 inaccurate
  • Alvaro Morata – 0.4 accurate per 90 and 0.5 inaccurate
  • Olivier Giroud – 0.6 accurate per 90 and 0 inaccurate


Short passes

  • Gonzalo Higuain – 17.3 accurate per 90 and 3.5 inaccurate
  • Alvaro Morata – 16.4 accurate per 90 and 4.6 inaccurate
  • Olivier Giroud – 19.6 accurate per 90 and 9.3 inaccurate

Key passes

We know Higuain has the better range and accuracy when it comes to ball-playing, but is he creative to go with it?

Well, the answer is mixed, as he clearly adds more than Morata but lacks compared to target man Giroud.

The way the Frenchman plays does allow more knockdowns and lay offs, so it’s not too big a deal he’s ahead of Higuain if Sarri is intent on making sure the ball stays on the floor.

Higuain vs Morata vs Giroud

  • Gonzalo Higuain – 1.3 key passes per 90 minutes and one assist
  • Alvaro Morata – 0.7 key passes per 90 minutes and no assists
  • Olivier Giroud 2.2 key passes per 90 minutes and four assists

Conclusion

Higuain looks to be an improvement on Morata and Giroud, and his previous relationship with Maurizio Sarri could really help him find his way at Stamford Bridge.

But it doesn’t look like the additional goals and overall play he will bring will be enough to turn Chelsea into title challengers.

If it is only a loan deal then it’s probably a good move to capture Higuain, but any talk of a £32million deal in summer, unless he proves otherwise, looks to be a big, big risk.

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