Juventus announce Gonzalo Higuain signing

Juventus have announced the signing of striker Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli.

Juventus has added striker Gonzalo Higuain to their team. The club announced the move on the team’s official website, stating that “Juventus Football Club can today confirm that it has purchased the registration rights of Gonzalo Higuain for €90 million, payable in two financial years… The player has agreed to a five-year contract with the club.”

This is significant news for an already-talented Juventus team that will now add one of Europe’s most prolific strikers.

Higuain joins from rivals Napoli, where he bagged 36 goals in 35 domestic appearances for the club. He also registered a pair of assists while firing off 5.2 shots per game. The Argentine will likely partner with countryman Paulo Dybala in attack, with Mario Mandzukic providing another option.

Another big-name signing

Higuain becomes the Bianconeri’s fifth signing of the offseason, and all five have been significant. Midfield ace Miralem Pjanic was first to join. He was soon joined by a pair of potentially world-class defenders in Dani Alves and Medhi Benatia. Talented young winger Marko Pjaca was also brought in before Higuain.

Rich get richer

With the addition of the Argentine forward, Juventus have now weakened a top domestic rival for the second time this transfer window. Pjanic was arguably Roma’s best player before joining up with Paul Pogba, Sami Khedira, Claudio Marchisio and the rest of the Juventus midfielders. By the same token, Higuain was undoubtedly Napoli’s top performer last season thanks to his prolific goal scoring.

With five straight domestic titles wrapped up, the additions of Pjanic, Higuain and company set up the Old Lady as overwhelming favorites for a sixth consecutive title.

[Related: Signings Could Propel Juve to Champions League This Season]

European glory

With the move, it is clear that Max Allegri and company are aiming to claim Europe’s ultimate prize. Even if Pogba departs via transfer, Juventus will field one of the most talented rosters on the continent. What’s more, the team also had tremendous depth. Simone Zaza and Daniele Rugani, two player who could start for a number of teams in Italy and abroad, are now fourth-choice at their respective positions.

There is also the possibility that Pogba stays in Turin this summer, making Juventus all the more dangerous in Europe.

For more Juventus content, visit Know Hitter’s Juventus page. 

Gonzaga Basketball Could Contend for Final Four in 2016/2017

The Gonzaga Bulldogs have run one of the most successful college basketball programs in the past decade. Gonzaga has been to 18 straight NCAA tournaments, and the team could only be getting better.

Despite losing the team’s top three scorers and four of the top eight scorers overall, Gonzaga is poised for a potential Final Four run during the upcoming season.

Yes, impact players like Kyle Wiltjer, Domantas Sabonis, Eric McClellan and Kyle Dranginis have all departed, but the Zags return plenty of talent.

Up front, Przemek Karnowski is back for a sixth season. The towering center is a force in the paint and an adept passer. It’s probably not a stretch to say that you can run an offense through him. What’s more, he can also provide a significant impact on defense with his shot-altering ability.

Additionally, the team brings back point guard Josh Perkins, who shot 38% from three last year, to go along with 10.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. Defensive stopper and double-digit scoring threat Silas Melson also returns.

The real excitement comes in Gonzaga’s new arrivals. Johnathan Williams, who sat out last season after transferring from Missouri, will take one of the frontcourt spots vacated by Wiltjer and Sabonis. The ex-Missouri standout averaged 16.2 points and 9.7 rebound per 40 minutes at his previous school.

Fellow transfer Nigel Williams-Goss, who arrives via Washington, will also start. The point guard should slot in next to Perkins in a two-guard backcourt. In his sophomore campaign in Seattle, the stat-sheet stuffer averaged 17 points, 6.4 assists and 5.1 rebounds per 40 minutes.

Rounding out the list of transfers is Jordan Mathews. The shooting guard arrives after a successful career at Cal, where he averaged at least 17.6 points per 40 minutes in each of his seasons at the school. In his last year with the Pac-12 heavyweights, the sharpshooter hit 41.6% of his threes while adding 18.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists per 40 minutes.

With a starting lineup consisting of Williams-Goss, Perkins, Mathews, Williams and Karnowski, Gonzaga should make some serious noise in the early going as a team that lands in the top 10 or 15 of rankings.

However, what makes the Zags special is there depth.

Head coach Mark Few welcomes perhaps the best recruiting class in school history. Center Zach Collins and shooting guard Zach Norvell are both ESPN 100 recrutis, while Tille and Hachimura are ranked as four-star prospects by Scout.com. Well-regarded Danish center Jacob Larsen rounds out the group.

Collins looks like a future pro with a solid post game, range to step out and knock down shots from the outside, as well as the ability to block shots. Meanwhile, Norvell is a dynamic scorer that should immediately make an impact off the bench.

Hachimura will provide another dynamic presence on the perimeter. ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla said that “He’s going to remind people of a bigger Elias Harris.”

With Karnoswki, Williams, Collins and junior center Ryan Edwards taking up minutes down low, Tille and Larsen may end up redshirting, however, if they play it wouldn’t be a surprise to see either make an impact considering how well Gonzaga has recruited internationally over the last few years.

Not only do Gonzaga have the talent be extremely successful next season, but they also have the depth to sustain a deep NCAA tournament run.

For more Gonzaga, head over to Know Hitter’s Gonzaga page. 

Juventus: Recent Signings Could Propel Bianconeri to Elusive Champions League Crown

 

Juventus very nearly took down Bayern Munich in last season’s Champion’s League Round of 16 tie. While the loss was a tough pill to swallow, it only reinforced the notion that the Old Lady can stand toe-to-toe with the other continental powers in Europe.

If this summer’s transfer activity has shown anything, it is that the Bianconeri have their sights set on the Champions League title that evaded them when they lost to Barcelona in the final two seasons.

So far, Juve have seen Alvaro Morata return to Real Madrid via buy-back clause, while Juan Cuadrado headed back to West London upon the expiration of his loan deal. In addition, squad players like Rubinho, Martin Caceres and Simone Padoin all moved on. Rubinho and Caceres left when their contracts ended, while Padoin was sold to Cagliari.

Morata fell behind Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic in the forward pecking order, while the presence of Simone Zaza made the Spaniard that much more expendable. Additionally, Cuadrado seemed unlikely to stay seeing as the wingback is perfectly suited for incoming Chelsea manager Antonio Conte’s preferred 3-5-2 system.

In their place, Juve have brought in midfield maestro Miralem Pjanic from arch-rivals Roma, and defender Dani Alves from Barcelona. In typical Beppe Marotta fashion, Alves arrived on a free transfer.

The Bianconeri don’t seem to be done on the transfer market either. Juventus’ official website announced that former Roma center back Medhi Benatia completed a medical at the team’s health center ahead of a potential move from Bayern Munich.

Additionally, there are reports from Gazzetta World that Juventus could be weakening yet another close rival and domestic competitor. The Old Lady could potentially be bringing in striker Gonzalo Higuain. The report also states that Roberto Pereyra could be heading to Naples. Either way, it would be a fantastic bit of business for Juventus in terms of strengthening their squad.

Should deals for Benatia and Higuain go through (as well as any sale of Pereyra), Juventus will essentially have replaced five bench players (Padoin, Caceres, Morata, Rubinho and Pereyra) with a group of players capable of starting for the vast majority of teams in Europe.

Pjanic, Alves, Higuain and Benatia (when he’s on form) are easily amongst the top 10 or 15 players at their respective positions in the world.

Did I mention Juventus have managed to keep hold of Paul Pogba?

Juventus’ current roster oozes with quality. The vaunted “BBC” backline comprised of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini return, as does the exceptional Gianluigi Buffon. The defense will be joined by the likes of Benatia and the continually developing Daniele Rugani.

On the wings, manager Max Allegri will start either Alves or Stephan Lichtsteiner on the right, and one of Patrice Evra or Alex Sandro on the left.

Allegri will have even more difficult selections to make in the center of the park. Some combination of Pogba, Pjanic, Sami Khedira and (when healthy) Claudio Marchisio will start in midfield. They’re backed up by Mario Lemina, Hernanes, the versatile Kwadwo Asamoah and Stefano Sturaro.

Up front, Dybala, Mandzukic and Zaza return. The signing of Higuain would put Juve’s group of forwards up there with the best attacking units in the world thanks to the stylist diversity provided by the incumbent trio.

It’s been a wildly successful summer so far for the Bianconeri, and it looks like it will continue to be successful as Juve adds more pieces to win in Europe.

Don’t be surprised to see Buffon and the rest of the Juventus squad finally lift that elusive Champions League trophy come next year.

For more Juventus content, visit Know Hitter’s Juventus page.