It's official: Barcelona are really annoying.
New manager Luis Enrique hasn't been afraid to throw the metaphorical weight of the Catalan giants around since taking over several weeks ago. After convincing Javier Mascherano to stay (seriously, Luis, thanks for that), he's now reportedly focusing his attention on Gonzalo Higuain, wanting to add him to an already-ridiculous strike group (seriously, Luis, go away).
We addressed the rumors when they first came up to weeks ago, breaking down the reasons that the move doesn't make sense. For those who don't remember, the key bit is here:
Frankly, it's hard see why [Higuain or Kun Aguero] would move to Barcelona. Both are the star of the attack with their current clubs and are exceptionally well paid. Neither would play near as much with the Catalan giants, with Lionel Messi and Neymar ahead of them in the pecking order and neither being good enough out wide to unseat Pedro or Alexis Sanchez from their spots in the rotation. The only tangible reason for either to move is to play with Messi more often to build a better rapport for national team games, but that's an awfully thin reason for essentially a sideways move for either player.
That reasoning is just as true now as it was a fortnight ago, but that hasn't kept Spanish rumor rag MARCA from banging the Higuain-to-Barca drum on a daily basis of late. First they claimed that Higuain was "on the brink" of signing with Barcelona, saying that the player had already agreed personal terms with Barcelona. That was quickly rubbished by both Higuain and Napoli, but it wasn't long before MARCA were trotting out more stories about an impending sale, including one with quotes purported to be from Lionel Messi saying that Higuain would be "good for Barcelona."
It should probably be noted around now that MARCA have been caught basically making things up before, and that when it comes to Barca and Real Madrid, their reputation for accuracy is poor at best. They're a good resource for most of the rest of La Liga, but anything said about Spain's big two teams, and to some extent Atletico Madrid as well, needs to be taken with a big heaping of salt.
For their part, Napoli and club president Aurelio De Laurentiis have repeatedly denied any interest in selling Higuain. MARCA have claimed that a price tag of some €55 million has been set if Barcelona really, really want to get Higuain. That'd be a nearly €20 million profit on what Napoli paid for Higuain last year, and it'd be hard to argue with that price with how brilliantly the Argentine played last season.
That would be a hideously high price to pay for a backup, however, and that's exactly what Higuain would be for Barcelona. Given that the Spanish giants are already losing Xavi, Carles Puyol, and Victor Valdes this summer, and other important players heavily linked with moves away, that much money would be best spent on 2-3 other players who can give them much more help on a whole than adding a luxury striker.
This rumor is still ridiculous, and still very annoying. If Barcelona really are crazy enough to spend €55 million plus a bump on Higuain's (very high) wages to get the striker, then it might be in Napoli's best interests to sell. That would be a far less than ideal scenario, though, as Napoli need to add talent to a side still coming together in it's cohesiveness, not replace one of the most important parts of it, even if it would add a crapton of money to their transfer budget.