Napoli have cooled talks of Gonzalo Higuain’s reported move to Juventus after admitting no club wants to pay the 94.7mn euros ($105mn) buyout clause in the Argentine star’s contract. Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis and Juventus CEO Giuseppe Marotta failed to reach any agreement during preliminary talks on the striker on Monday.
And De Laurentiis admitted yesterday the buyout clause in Higuain’s contract, which expires in 2018, could see last season’s Serie A ‘Capocannoniere’ (top scorer) kick off the new season at the San Paolo stadium. “No club wants to pay the buyout clause, he will not be going to Juventus and so will remain at Napoli,” De Laurentiis told the club’s radio station Kiss Kiss. “I raised the amount of the clause because I don’t want to sell. He has a long contract and I won’t concede. When he (Higuain) returns to (the club’s pre-season training complex) Dimaro on July 25, I will tell him ‘welcome back’.”
He added: “I asked Marotta if he wants to pay the buyout clause. He told me he’s not even thinking about it.”
Italian sports media, however, believe Juve’s pursuit of Higuain is far from over — and could be determined by Paul Pogba’s possible move to Manchester United. The Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport suggested Juve are waiting to offload star midfielder Pogba, who reports said could join United for 125mn euros, before making their next move.
Higuain, despite helping Napoli to second place behind Juve last season, is reportedly keen to move to Turin because of the club’s raised profile among Europe’s elite after several years on the sidelines. The 28-year-old joined Napoli for 40mn euros from Real Madrid in 2013 and has gone on to become one of the most exciting, and most consistent strikers in Italy’s top flight.
He hit a stunning 36 goals last season to break Gunnar Nordahl’s 66-year-old record of 35 goals for AC Milan in a 20-team season, which he achieved in 1950. At Juventus, Higuain would join up with fellow Argentina international striker Paulo Dybala, forming a formidable duo that would likely strike fear into the hearts of Serie A defences before a ball is kicked in anger.
Dybala finished Serie A’s second-highest scorer on 19. Dybala also followed Higuain on the social media platform Instagram last weekend, fuelling speculation the Napoli striker is set to quit the southern club two years before his current contract expires.
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