Report: Gonzalo Higuaín agrees to leave Real Madrid for Napoli; where does this leave Arsenal?

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Whether this is Arsenal sleeping, deciding not to match, or otherwise being blindsided, the long-rumored purchase of Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain is not going to happen, if Spanish outlet AS has covered all its bases. Instead the 25-year-old Argentine will be moving to Napoli, replacing Edinson Cavani as the Neopolitans give manager Rafa Benítez a $48.8 million striker to build behind.

According to AS, Higuaín has agreed to personal terms that will pay him $7.9 million per season. Though the length of his deal wasn’t reported, if it’s a four-year contract, Napoli’s overall commitment to Higuaín will exceed $80 million. That’s nearly all of the fee PSG paid for Cavani and just over half of the Parisian’s total commitment to their new striker.

For their money, Napoli get a player that scored 106 times in his 188-match La Liga career, averaging exactly two goals every three games since his breakout, 22-goal season in 2008-09. After moving from River Plate in December 2006, Higuaín’s been part of three league champions and one Copa del Rey winner, though for the first time in his European career, the Argentine international will have to replicate his successes beyond the Santiago Bernabeu.

How close he can come to replicating Cavani’s success will be the bigger issue for Napoli fans. With the Uruguayan’s move to France, Napoli are losing a player who averaged 26 goals per season over the last three years. To put that in perspective, Higuaín’s best year in Madrid was 27 goals, but that was also the only time he eclipsed 22. Cavani’s worst season in Napoli produced 23 goals.

Higuaín won’t have to make up the whole the difference to make this move work. In fact, comparisons to Cavani’s value provide an impossible standard for Higuaín to live up to. Acquired from Palermo in 2010, Cavani had become a bargain for Napoli, more than paying off their initial $23 million investment. While he signed a new contract after his 2010-11 breakout with the partenopei, Cavani’s sale to PSG still gave Napoli a windfall on their investment. Higuaín, a finished product, can’t be compared to that kind of buy low, sell high proposition.

He will, however, inevitably be compared to whomever Arsenal end up starting as their number nine next month, be that Luis Suárez or incumbent Olivier Giroud. With the Gunners linked to Higuaín since before the end of the season, many fans had been expecting the Argentine to eventually arrive at the Emirates. Now, with Napoli swooping to claim a player who seemed a perfect fit, Arsenal fans are back where they started: Wondering if their hope for a big summer move will be in vain.

MLS Snapshot: Colorado Rapids 1-2 Real Salt Lake

SANDY UT - MARCH 14: Olmes Garcia #13 of Real Salt Lake celebrates his goal during their game against the Philadelphia Union at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 14, 2015 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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The game in 100 words (or less): Real Salt Lake stays alive in the hunt for a playoff berth in the Western Conference with a crucial 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. After falling behind early, RSL scored twice before halftime and held onto the lead for the rest of the match, moving within three points of the final playoff spot in the West. Real Salt Lake has three matches remaining, including a massive clash against the Portland Timbers, which will pretty much decide their season. For Colorado, it’s another year without playoff soccer.

[ MORE: FC Dallas clinches playoff berth ]

Three moments that mattered

16′ — Doyle heads Colorado into the lead — The former Premier League man gave the home side an early lead, thanks to a powerful header from quite a bit out. Sean St. Ledger played in a cross, where Doyle snapped a header into the top corner past Nick Rimando.

33′ — Joao Plata bends in the free kick — Trailing 1-0, Joao Plata drew RSL level with a brilliant free kick. Plata’s shot dipped over the wall and under the crossbar, as Clint Irwin stood helpless in goal for Colorado.

43′ — Mulholland fires home a volley to put RSL ahead — Luke Mulholland scored his first goal of the season, and it was a beauty. A corner kick popped out to the midfielder at the top of the box, as he rifled a shot off the bounce and into the side netting.

Man of the match: Luke Mulholland

Goalscorers: Doyle (16′), Plata (33′), Mulholland (43′)

Wenger lauds team spirit following Arsenal’s big win

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Arsenal put on a superb performance against Manchester United today, flying out to a three-goal lead in the opening 20 minutes of the match.

[ RECAP: Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United ]

United was stunned by the fast-paced, free-flowing Arsenal attack, unable to recover from the Gunners’ early dominance.

All of this came on the heels of a disappointing loss to Olympiacos in the Champions League, after which many questioned manager Arsene Wenger and his side.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s win vs. Manchester United ]

Following the big 3-0 win at the Emirates, Wenger praised his team’s spirit, saying there were outstanding performances throughout the side.

You go from Petr Cech up to Theo Walcott, and we had only outstanding performances. Sometimes we have that magic side in our game.

[Against Olympiacos] maybe we lacked a little bit of urgency and discipline, and that’s why we lost the game. But let’s not forget, last Saturday we won 5-2 at Leicester. Today we beat Man United 3-0.

[The players] have shown that we have an outstanding spirit in the squad. To respond the way we did after what happened to us, you need to have an exceptional spirit.

The Gunners’ performance today immediately silenced all the critics, as Wenger’s side put out on a display that many have been waiting for all season. The combination play of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott was brilliant, as Santi Cazorla continued to impress in the center of the midfield.

Wenger’s teams have not always been known to show strong heart and resiliency, but that’s exactly what they showed today against a Manchester United side that was in great form. Now sitting second on the table, Arsenal continues to climb up the Premier League.