Gonzalo Higuain leaving Napoli seems like a virtual certainty at this point, but now we know where he won't be playing next: anywhere in China. That's because he rejected a massive contract offer from Hebei China Fortune, one of several Chinese teams who made massive raids on European teams over the past year, and one that would have made him the highest-paid player in the world.
According to reports in Italy and elsewhere, Hebei offered Higuain some €50 million per season, an amount that, even after China's 45% income tax rate, would have seen him make much more than the €21 million per season that Cristiano Ronaldo rakes in at Real Madrid. It's a sum that many players would have taken without blinking, but Higuain rejected it, apparently not wanting to leave the competitive climate of Europe.
Coming on the heels of that Chinese offer, though, is a report of a fresh offer of a contract extension from Napoli, one that would make him the highest-paid player in Italy by a wide margin. Right now, that honor falls to Roma's Daniele De Rossi, who makes roughly €6.5 million per season. Reports indicate that Napoli's offer is worth at least €1 million per season more than that, at least half again what he currently makes.
There is, apparently, something of an ultimatum involved though -- if Higuain rejects this move, Napoli will start considering other offers on the table, including a reported high-value offer from Arsenal that doesn't reach Higuain's release clause, but still trumps any other offer made so far by a wide margin. While Higuain loudly and nastily rejected Napoli's previous contract offer, the value of this one should allay his apparent concerns over how seriously Napoli are taking their desire to be competitive, one that was oft-quoted as a "problem" by his brother-slash-agent in his idiotic rant.
With Higuain returning from his post-Copa America vacation soon, we appear to be approaching a showdown phase of this drama. This is probably going to be a bumpy ride.