Juventus have finally completed their long-running pursuit of Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain. After weeks of speculation and reported competition from the likes of Arsenal, the reigning Serie A champions formally announced via their official website on Tuesday afternoon (26 July) that they have "purchased the registration rights" of Italian football's most prolific striker for a fee of €90m (£75.2m, $98.8m) made payable over a two-year period.
Higuain has signed a five-year deal in Turin and such an extravagant fee, one that triggered his previous release clause, means that he now lies third behind star Real Madrid duo Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo in the list of football's all-time most expensive signings. Napoli also reluctantly confirmed the agreement after the player's contract was initially registered with the league.
Juventus, as with Bayern Munich in Germany and Paris Saint-Germain in France, have simply dominated top-flight Italian football over recent years, winning five consecutive titles under the tutelage of Antonio Conte and successor Massimiliano Allegri.
The only legitimate threats to their reign last term came from Napoli and Roma, both of whom have now lost significant assets to the Bianconeri in the form of Higuain and Bosnian international Miralem Pjanic. Marko Pjaca, Mehdi Benatia, Dani Alves and Simone Ganz have also joined already this summer, with Mario Lemina signing on a permanent basis after a successful loan spell.
The arrival of the former River Plate forward is especially significant, however, given his 2015/16 exploits. Having already proved his scoring prowess at Stadio San Paolo since joining from Real for £34.5m in July 2013 as Rafael Benitez sought a replacement for PSG-bound Edinson Cavani, he took things a step further last term by notching 36 times in just 35 league games. That tally saw him break AC Milan legend Gunnar Nordahl's Serie A record that had stood for 66 years. Allegri will be hoping he can continue that fine run following Alvaro Morata's return to the Spanish capital.
Higuain's decision to join Juve provides yet more transfer disappointment for Arsenal, who last month looked set to entice Jamie Vardy to north London before the England striker elected instead to sign a lucrative new four-year deal with Premier League champions Leicester City. Several outlets – including Sky Sports – confirmed that the Gunners were eager to sign the player amid rival interest from Atletico Madrid, but ultimately they were scuppered by that significant price tag.
It also stands to reason that Juventus splashing out on Higuain, who suffered a third major tournament final loss in as many years with Argentina at the Copa America Centenario in June, could mean that Manchester United's expensive chase for Paul Pogba could finally be nearing its conclusion. Napoli, meanwhile, are reported to be closing in on the signing of Arkadiusz Milik from Ajax.