Higuain to Milan in three-player swop deal with Juventus

ROME • Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain on Thursday moved to AC Milan in a three-player swop deal between the seven-time European champions and Juventus that will see Leonardo Bonucci return to Turin after just a season away.

Milan signed 30-year-old Higuain on a one-year loan deal worth a reported €18 million (S$28.5 million) that gives them the option of buying the striker next summer for a further €36 million.

Italy centre-back Bonucci has been swopped for promising Mattia Caldara just weeks after Caldara arrived at Juve following his transfer from Atalanta, which was agreed in January last year. Both players have signed five-year contracts.

Higuain joined Juventus in 2016 for €90 million from Napoli. In Turin, he won two Serie A titles and scored 40 goals in 76 league appearances. But the shock signing of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid means the Argentinian is surplus to requirements.

Italian media reported that Higuain's transfer had been structured to allow Milan to comply with Uefa's Financial Fair Play regulations, which they fell foul of last season.

Last term, Milan scored only 56 goals in Serie A, a figure which put them at a serious disadvantage compared to major rivals Juventus, Napoli and Roma as well as bitter city rivals Inter Milan who all claimed Champions League places.

"A new adventure begins," said Higuain after his medical check-up.

His move opened the door for Bonucci to return to Juventus, where the defender won six league titles and reached two Champions League finals, and reunites him with Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini. They formed the so-called "BBC" defence which was one of Europe's most formidable rearguards.

Bonucci, 31, spent just one season with Milan, who could finish only sixth last season and missed the Champions League despite spending more than €200 million on new players last summer.

A reported €42 million of that was spent on Bonucci, who was made captain but fell short of the imperious form he showed at Juve.

"Turin and Juventus are home for me. It's difficult to imagine that this has happened," said Bonucci. "I am delighted and excited to be back."

Milan are trying to bounce back after a troubled spell following the sale of the club to Chinese owners in April last year, but poor performances on the pitch were compounded in recent months by fears over their financial survival.

Uefa booted them out of this season's Europa League for violating financial rules, only for the ban to be overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on July 20, following hedge fund Elliott Management's takeover earlier in the month.

The American firm took control after the Chinese consortium led by Li Yonghong that ran Milan, long rumoured to be struggling financially, failed to repay €32 million lent by Elliott. Elliot has pledged to inject €50 million to bring financial stability to the club.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2018, with the headline 'Higuain to Milan in three-player swop deal with Juventus'. Subscribe