For a couple of weeks now, there's been some odd, off-and-on rumors that Gonzalo Higuain could be leaving Napoli and headed for England. No, not the Chelsea and Arsenal and Manchester United rumors -- those were all obviously fabrications and easy to dismiss. No, these rumors were for Liverpool, and despite the strange nature of them and the bizarre choice it would be for Higuain to go specifically to Liverpool, it's been difficult to completely dismiss the rumors.
Then, something happened on Monday night that set the rumor mill ablaze -- Jurgen Klopp was seen at Argentina's match against Chile in the Copa America Centenario in California, and what's more, he was seen deep in conversation with Nicholas Higuain, Gonzalo's brother and agent. It was a match that Higuain started and played 74 excellent minutes in, so having Klopp in attendance for it could prove quite telling.
That sighting has coincided with a sharp rise in the volume and seeming certainty of the rumors -- it is now, the rags claim, only a matter of time before Higuain puts pen to paper and trades just the perfect shade of blue for red.
Past that, though, the details are shockingly light. Zero financial details are being reported, not even as to whether or not Liverpool would be triggering Higuain's €94 million release clause or not. The rumors also don't address a number of very large questions about the deal, questions that potentially take this from "fascinating rumor" to "why on earth are you even talking about this?"
First off, as Liverpool can't offer Champions League football, why would Higuain leave a Champions League club to go there? Sure, Klopp is a fantastic manager and he'd be joining a team with a solid core, but they neither have the Champions League this season nor can guarantee it in the future thanks to the ultra-competitive Premier League. There's also no guarantee that Higuain would be able to keep playing at the same inspiring level he's enjoyed in Serie A in the more physical style of the EPL, so while Liverpool can certainly afford to pay him handsomely, he may not enjoy the stay for long if he struggles and the Anfield crowd turns against him -- just ask Mario Balotelli and Christian Benteke.
As for Napoli's part -- well, there's not a lot they can or should do right now. If Liverpool trigger the release clause, that's that. If they don't -- maybe they should consider taking it anyways, it it's a significant enough offer. More on that another time. Once Napoli get Higuain's fee, it would likely set off a domino effect of transfers, including hopefully a quality replacement for Higuain, not just Gianluca Lapadula. If no offer comes, then Napoli still have one of the best strikers around. That's an acceptable outcome.
No matter what, this rumor seems like something that could develop quite quickly, either into a genuine transfer or into something that moves into the "busted rumor" category. The summer mercato has barely started and the insanity has already begun...