Gonzalo Higuain has left Juventus and joined AC Milan in a deal that also sees Leonardo Bonucci return to Juve after a year away in a swap for fellow centre-back Mattia Caldara.
Higuain, 30, was likely to see his minutes at Juventus reduced in the upcoming season after the Italian champions’ signing of Cristiano Ronaldo earlier this summer.
The striker arrives at Milan on an initial season-long loan for €18 million, with a clause to make the move permanent next summer for an additional €36m.
Higuain’s agent and brother, Nicolas, met with Milan technical director Leonardo on Tuesday to iron out details of the deal after being informed by Juve of what figure they would accept. He arrived in Milan on Wednesday and had a medical on Thursday before the deal was announced.
The Argentina international, who appeared in three games at the World Cup, set a Serie A scoring record with 36 goals for Napoli in 2015-16.
He then joined Juve for €90m when they activated a release clause in his contract, making him the most expensive transfer in Italian football at the time.
Juve beat that record this summer by signing Ronaldo from Real Madrid for €100m. The superstar’s arrival consequently led them to listen to offers for Higuain — who was also attracting interest from Chelsea and their former coach, Maurizio Sarri.
Overall, Higuain scored 55 goals in 105 games for Juventus. He had a subdued World Cup, starting one game and appearing as a substitute in two more and failing to score a goal. He was left on the bench for the second-round match against France as Argentina lost 4-3 and were knocked out.
Bonucci and Caldara swapped teams with each club paying €35 million for the other’s player, Juventus said in a statement.
Before joining AC Milan for €40m in a shock move last year, Bonucci, 31, spent seven seasons at Juventus and helped them win six successive Serie A titles. He now returns to Turin on a five-year deal under 2023, after playing 50 total games for Milan.
Caldara, 24, also signed a five-year deal with Milan. He joined Juventus from Atalanta in January 2017, though he remained on loan with his former club until this June and made his only appearances for the Bianconeri last month in the International Champions Cup friendlies against Bayern Munich and Benfica.
“I was sorry to see him go,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said of Caldara after overseeing his team in Wednesday’s MLS All-Star Game. “He is a very young professional, a very good one, but I’m sure that he will have a very good future. Unfortunately within the market we have to make some choices, and that’s what happened.”
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