MILAN: Italian champions Juventus are set to pay a hefty 94.7 million euros ($105m) release clause in Gonzalo Higuain’s contract with Napoli to lure the Argentina star to Turin, reports claimed Monday.
Higuain joined Napoli for 40 million euros from Real Madrid in 2013 and has since gone on to become one of the most exciting, and bankable stars in Italy’s top flight.
The 28-year-old center-forward 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.
Now the Argentina star is set to break Napoli hearts by joining their bitter, northern rivals in a deal that could see Juventus offer several players and pay the massive release clause to Napoli to secure Higuain’s services.
According to widespread reports in the Italian media, Higuain has personally agreed to the move.
Talks between both clubs were expected to begin on Monday and although they may continue for some time, Juventus are set to pull out all the stops in a bid to secure Higuain.
La Gazzetta dello Sport said Juventus are willing to offer striker Simone Zaza and defender Daniele Rugani as part of the deal.
If Higuain were to join Juventus, Napoli would then focus on replacing him with either Mauro Icardi (Inter Milan), Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid) or Nikola Kalinic (Fiorentina), said the report.
Napoli have maintained in recent weeks that Higuain is not for sale, the club’s vice-president Edoardo De Laurentiis — the son of club owner Aurelio — even telling worried fans on Sunday to “sleep tight” when asked about Higuain’s possible departure.
But a front page headline in Gazzetta dello Sport warned Napoli fans it was “Higuain Day” and that Juventus would be “launching an assault” in a bid to close the deal.
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.
While Higuain hit 36 league goals in 2015-2016, 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.
Juventus claimed their fifth consecutive Serie A title last season with a nine-point cushion on Napoli, who will feature in next season’s Champions League.
The new Serie A season starts on August 20.