What better way to declare the season of speculation open than to link Gonzalo Higuain to Arsenal?
The immortal transfer rumour enters its third successive summer of clogging up gossip columns and newsfeeds thanks to The Evening Standard, who have put a small spin on this threadbare story.
Higuain is allegedly one of three Serie A-based strikers Arsene Wenger is running the rule over. Juventus’ Alvaro Morata and Mauro Icardi of Inter are the two alternatives to the Napoli goal machine.
Danny Welbeck’s long-term stint in the sick bay is said to be Arsenal’s motivation for this Italian shopping excursion.
Should they actually get one of the deals over the line (it’d represent something of a miracle based on the length of the Higuain links), it’ll mark the Gunners’ reversion to a long-abandoned transfer strategy.
Not since goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano was inexplicably drafted in on loan from Palermo in 2013/14 (and he didn’t play a single minute in any competition) have the north Londoners signed from Serie A.
Many attributed Arsenal’s decline from Premier League title challengers to perennial fourth-place finishers over the last decade to the financial limitations imposed upon them after moving to the Emirates Stadium, but closer inspection reveals how their altering of a tried and tested buying policy may have been more significant than has been noted.
The most successful period of Wenger’s 20-year reign was founded on players purchased from the kingdom of calcio.
Patrick Vieira (bought by the pre-Wenger regime on recommendation from the Frenchman) was drafted in from AC Milan and Thierry Henry arrived via Juventus, while Dennis Bergkamp (another pre-Wenger buy) and Nwankwo Kanu were recruited from Inter.
All four won multiple top-tier titles and the former trio, in particular, can arguably be regarded as Arsenal’s greatest ever players, yet the Gunners have refrained from revisiting the land that helped mould them in order to source their heirs and have, subsequently, slipped out of contention for top honours domestically and on the continent.
This summer, however, could see them return to the fore, if The Standard are to be believed…