By Editor Wayne Veysey | Former Evening Standard, Press Association and Goal chief correspondent with 17 years experience of breaking big stories, including exclusives like this
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Manchester United are closely monitoring Gonzalo Higuain as they target a “world-class” striker this summer, Football Insider sources understand.
United are in the market for an A-list front man as they attempt to reinforce a squad that has had a disappointing season.
The Premier League giants crashed out of the Europa League at the hands of bitter rivals Liverpool this month and face an FA Cup quarter-final replay trip to West Ham to keep alive their silverware hopes.
United signed Anthony Martial from Monaco last summer in a deal that could rise to £61million if all performance-related add-ons are triggered but they want a proven spearhead.
A well-placed source has told Football Insider that Jose Mourinho, who is set to be installed at Old Traffard at the end of the season, wants a “world-class” forward who can score 30-plus goals a season. Inter Milan’s Argentine striker Mauro Icardi is also on United’s radar.
Higuain has been a huge success at Napoli since being among ex-manager Rafael Benitez’s first signings in the summer of 2013, with the former Real Madrid striker scoring 84 Napoli goals in just 141 games and also weighing in with 26 assists.
The Argentina international has yet to open talks with Napoli over a contract extension and, with his current deal expiring in 2018, there is huge interest in prising the forward from Naples in the summer transfer window.
In addition to Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool are all closely monitoring the situation of Higuain, who has scored an astonishing 29 Serie A goals in 30 matches this season, 15 more than his closest rival, Paulo Dybala of Juventus.
Amid strong interest in the player last summer, Napoli released a statement informing potential suitors that they must meet a release clause of €94.7million (£73.9million) to sign the forward, who turned 28 in December.
There is likely to be anxiety among Napoli chiefs about the future of Higuain unless he extends his agreement, especially given the mammoth new Premier League broadcasting deal that comes into effect next season and will give English clubs even greater financial muscle.
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