Arsenal have been handed a boost in their pursuit of Gonzalo Higuain after Napoli confirmed that Juventus have pulled out of the race for the striker after refusing to meet his €94m (£78.8m, $104m) release clause. The Turin club's hierarchy also admitted that they will not match the striker's buyout clause as they look to replace Alvaro Morata, who moved back to Real Madrid earlier in the summer.
The Gunners have been heavily linked with a move for the Argentine forward, but a recent Goal report suggested that they had lost out to the Serie A champions. But the latest revelations will give Arsene Wenger renewed hope of landing a high profile forward to challenge Olivier Giroud for the central striker's role.
The only barrier standing between the Premier League giants and a move for Higuain is his release clause, which the Napoli club chief Aurelio De Laurentiis has made clear has to be met in order for them to let him leave. A player-plus-cash deal involving Giroud has been mooted, but the Italian club want the full amount, which according to the chairman, none of the interested clubs have offered to pay.
"For now the Higuain matter is closed. I can confirm that we will not pay the clause," Marotta told reporters, as quoted by Goal.
"Whoever wants him can pay the clause. Juventus never had any intention of doing so. I don't know if something will change but [Juve general manager Giuseppe] Marotta is smart and knows perfectly well they can't do this great wrong and that it's a losing battle," De Laurentiis said following the meeting between the pair at the first Lega Calcio meeting of the season, as quoted by Football Italia.
"There's a release clause, according to which if someone says 'we'll pay it', Higuain can accept the offer from any club and Napoli will only accept those offers."
"The clause was inserted to protect ourselves, because the higher the clause the more someone has to pay. No club has offered it so far and Higuain hasn't said anything," he added.
Wenger has made it clear that a forward is one of his priorities this summer and has been linked to others during the transfer window. Alvaro Morata was among the names mentioned and most recently Mauro Icardi was added to the list after his agent revealed that the Emirates Stadium outfit had made their interest known.