It’s been a summer of many rumours for Atleti. Despite snapping up the talented Nico Gaitan and solid Sime Vrsaljko for a combined fee of €40m, los Rojiblancos have struggled to strengthen their forward line. Names such as Diego Costa, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Carlos Bacca have appeared more often than once in relation to Atleti’s search for a striker but neither player has ended up in the red and white jersey, as of yet.
Another player who continues to be linked with a move to the Vicente Calderon is Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain. The former Real Madrid player is expected to leave the Italian club at some point this summer with Arsenal heavily linked. The Premier League side have been interested in the 28-year-old for a few years, and it’s only logical they would bid for his services should he become available.
Atleti are reportedly one step ahead of their English counterparts, however. According to Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis, Diego Simeone’ side recently offered €60m plus a couple of players for the Argentinian striker. The proposal was rejected as De Laurentiis also dismissed talk that Higuain could end up joining rivals Juventus,
"The only offer for Pipita came from Atleti," De Laurentiis told AS, via ESPN,” Their president called me offering €60 million plus two or three players, but I told him it could not be, very calmly. Gonzalo would be betraying himself," he claimed. "You cannot sing a love song to Napoli's fans in their stadium, and then put on the jersey of their worst rival. It would be absurd."
Interestingly enough, despite seemingly ruling out a sale of his star striker, De Laurentiis went on to reveal that Napoli “will see if a replacement is needed. There is no problem, we also finished second without Higuain [before he signed].”
As is common with the transfer window, much speculation could still lead to nothing. It’s good to know that Atleti are willing to pay big money for a striker though, as we await to see if they return with a more enticing proposal for the forward.