LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea have completed the signing of Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain, who will join the club on loan from Juventus until the end of the season, the Premier League club said on Wednesday.
Higuain joins Chelsea after his year-long loan spell with AC Milan was cut to less than six months. The deal reunites the striker with Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri, who was manager of Napoli when Higuain was at the club.
“When the opportunity to join Chelsea presented itself I had to take it. It’s a team I’ve always liked that has a lot of history, a wonderful stadium and they play in the Premier League, a league I’ve always wanted to play in,” Higuain said in a statement on the Chelsea website.
“I now hope I can give back that trust Chelsea have shown me out on the pitch. I can’t wait to start and I hope to adapt as soon as possible.”
The deal, however, has come too late for him to face Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup semi-final, second leg on Thursday.
The 31-year-old did not sign before Wednesday’s midday deadline and cannot therefore play against Spurs at Stamford Bridge in a match Chelsea trail 1-0 from the first leg.
Higuain’s spell at Milan started with six goals in seven games but he has only scored once in his last 12 appearances.
Sarri hopes he will rediscover the form that saw him score 38 times in their final season together at Napoli in 2015-16.
“He has had some difficulties recently, but we’re hoping we can raise him back to his best form,” Sarri told reporters on Wednesday.
“He’s still scored eight goals in a team that isn’t at the same level as Juventus.
“He’s a very strong striker. Especially in my first season in Naples. He scored 36 goals in 35 matches in Serie A. For sure, he is one of the best strikers in my career.”
Sarri was keen to boost his goalscoring options after dropping misfiring Spain forward Alvaro Morata and deploying playmaker Eden Hazard as a ‘false nine’ in recent games.
Asked if the arrival of Higuain was a sign that the club are behind him, Sarri said: “I hope so. I think the club agree with me when I told them my opinion about the team.
“The January market is very difficult, especially for a striker. It’s very difficult in January to find one of the most important strikers in the world.”
Chelsea are in the fourth and final Champions League qualifying spot in the Premier League standings, three points ahead of Arsenal who beat them 2-0 on Saturday.
Higuain moved to Milan from Juventus on loan in August in a complex three-way deal which also saw defender Mattia Caldara move from the Turin side to the seven-times European champions and Leondardo Bonucci move in the other direction.
Milan paid 18 million euros (16.03 million pounds) for a one-year loan with an option to buy when Higuain became surplus to requirements at Juventus following their signing of Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo.
After joining Juventus from Napoli in 2016, Higuain won Serie A and Coppa Italia titles in each of his first two seasons with Juve and netted 55 goals in 105 appearances in all competitions, including 40 in 73 Serie A outings.
He told Gazzetta dello Sport in an interview in October that he was “sent away” by Juventus and had not wanted to leave, although there were no hard feelings.
Deprived of the service he enjoyed at Juventus and previously at Napoli, he scored only eight goals in 22 appearances for Milan — well below his usual prolific best.
Higuain has faced criticism that he fails to make an impact on the big occasion.
He is often remembered for the miss in the 2014 World Cup final against Germany where a mistake left him with only goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to beat and he fired wide of the goal. Argentina went on to lose the match 1-0 after extra time.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Toby Davis and Brian Homewood; editing by Ken Ferris, Alexander Smith and Christian Radnedge