London Club, Chelsea are confident that Juventus will sell
Gonzalo Higuain for less than the agreed price of €36 million if they decide to
make the striker’s loan deal permanent at the end of the season, sources have
told ESPN FC.
Higuain, 31, has impressed since arriving at Stamford Bridge
on loan in January, scoring twice in a 5-0 victory over Huddersfield Town and looking
dangerous even as Chelsea suffered an historic 6-0 defeat against Manchester
City at the Etihad Stadium on last Sunday.
Chelsea paid around €9m as a loan fee to Juventus in the
initial agreement, which includes options to extend Higuain’s stay for a
further season at the cost of €18m or buy him outright for €36m next summer.
Juventus structured the deal in this way to remove the
annual €18m cost of owning Higuain from their accounts, and the Italian giants
cannot afford to keep the Argentine after making Cristiano Ronaldo the
highest-paid player in Serie A when they signed him from Real Madrid for €100m
Ronaldo is reported to earn €31m per season, three times
more than anyone else in Italy’s top flight, and is on a four-year contract.
Juventus also last week confirmed that they have signed Arsenal midfielder
Aaron Ramsey to a deal that will reportedly earn him €7.5m per season.
Sources have told ESPN FC that Juventus want the full €36m
to sell Higuain, but Chelsea believe the Serie A champions’ financial
commitments mean they will accept a lower price if it is decided that Higuain
has a future at Stamford Bridge beyond this season.
That decision is closely tied to the future of head coach
Maurizio Sarri, whose position has come under scrutiny with a run of three
defeats in four Premier League matches that has seen Chelsea slip to sixth in
the table and culminate in the City loss, their heaviest for 28 years.
Chelsea only set aside their reservations about Higuain’s
age and huge wages — he earns a reported €9.5m per season — on Sarri’s recommendation
in January, and signing him permanently is unlikely to be viewed as an appealing
prospect if the Italian is sacked.
Sources have told ESPN FC that Chelsea are not considering
Sarri’s position, but Champions League qualification has always been the club’s
primary objective and further setbacks in the Premier League or elimination
from the Europa League could put his job at risk.