Speculation remains rife that Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be set to rejoin AC Milan, but what would his return mean for Gonzalo Higuain in the long term?
As noted by Goal.com, the 37-year-old continues to be linked with a return to the Rossoneri in January, while it has even been speculated that Milan are already considering the possibility of not exercising their €36m option to sign Higuain permanently, as per Calciomercato.
The expectation is that Ibrahimovic could arrive on a mere six-month loan move, which in turn means that the Rossoneri still have to formulate a long-term plan.
Higuain has certainly made a positive impact, having bagged seven goals in 14 appearances since his summer switch from Juventus.
However, after going without a goal in November, being sent off against the Bianconeri and seemingly cutting a frustrated figure on a regular basis in recent weeks to raise question marks over his ability to be a leader for Milan, could it be enough to spark a reshuffle up front this summer?
Sticking with Higuain still seems like the obvious choice, and perhaps the most popular one. However, as noted by La Gazzetta dello Sport, concerns have been raised over the additional €36m fee needed to turn his loan move into a permanent one, along with his €9.5m-a-season net wages.
The Argentine ace is still one of the most prolific forwards in Europe, and his goals could still fire Milan to the Champions League this season and ultimately make this conundrum redundant.
In an ideal world, he will produce the goods and ensure that’s the case, but question marks arose last month for valid reasons, and so he has to get back to his early season form and prove that he’s capable of successfully leading the Milan line.
However, if that doesn’t happen and it ultimately leads to a split, what are Milan’s best options for next season? Signing Ibrahimovic on a longer deal could be a solution if he arrives in January and plays a key role in the second half of the campaign.
With Patrick Cutrone now scoring 25 goals in just 63 games for Milan, is there an argument to give the 20-year-old a more prominent role and make space for him to emerge as our talisman?
Meanwhile, Andre Silva is having a fine season on loan at Sevilla, scoring eight goals in 13 La Liga games and so it’s expected that the Spanish outfit will look to make his move permanent.
However, as noted by Calciomercato, that isn’t a certainty at this stage as they may not be able to pay the €35m fee in full, which in turn could give Milan the opportunity to bring the Portuguese ace back for a second chance.
Perhaps having Cutrone, Silva and Ibrahimovic might be a more balanced and long-term attack moving forward.
Nevertheless, that remains a complicated and risky strategy in its own right. While doubts can be raised over Higuain given his recent struggles, there is no denying that he’s the No.9 that Milan have been desperately trying to bring in for years, and it’s hoped that by helping to secure Champions League football, a permanent swoop becomes a natural next step.