Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink has expressed doubts over the fitness levels of Chelsea’s new loan signing Gonzalo Higuain.
Higuain signed from Juventus on Wednesday in a deal until the end of the season, with Chelsea also having the option to extend the loan for a further season or purchase the Argentine forward outright for £31m.
The 31-year-old spent the first half of this season on loan at AC Milan, where he scored eight goals in 22 appearances, leading some to question whether he remains capable of solving Chelsea’s striking problems.
“We know that he (Higuain) knows where the back of the net is,” said Hasselbaink, who scored 81 goals in 169 appearances for Chelsea.
“The only little worry that I have is he’s 31, how fit is he? How fit is he to cope in the Premier League? We know that the Premier League is the hardest league in the world, physically you have to be right.”
“If he is physically right, he will score goals. If he’s not he will have a little bit of a problem.”
The best season of Higuain’s career came under Chelsea head coach Maurizio Sarri’s guidance at Napoli, when he scored 36 goals during their 2015/16 Serie A campaign.
Those performances earned Higuain a move to Italy’s dominant force, Juventus, where he continued to score regularly but was deemed surplus to requirements after the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid last summer.
Sarri appeared to grow frustrated with his centre-forward options at Stamford Bridge, choosing to play Eden Hazard up front rather than Olivier Giroud or Alvaro Morata, who is now on the brink of a move to Atletico Madrid.
Morata was signed as a direct replacement for Diego Costa but failed to fill the physical void left by his compatriot’s departure, according to former Chelsea goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
“He (Higuain) comes across a little bit Costa-esque in terms of (he) likes a bit of a scrap, likes a bit of getting his body on the line,” Schwarzer said.
“I think that’s something they’ve definitely missed. They haven’t been able to replace that physicality side of the game.”
“That’s probably one area where I think he (Higuain) will do well in the Premier League with.”
Higuain’s signing was not completed in time for him to be available for Chelsea’s Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Tottenham on Thursday evening, but he could make his debut against Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday.