Gonzalo Higuain needs to start scoring fast or Chelsea can kiss goodbye to top four

The Argentine was supposed to be the missing link in Chelsea's attack when he arrived in January but has not found the net enough so far.  When Chelsea signed Gonzalo Higuain in January on an expensive, initial loan deal – with a view to turning the transfer permanent in the summer – the Argentine was expected to score the goals to secure Champions League football.

However, after 10 games in a Chelsea shirt – seven of them Premier League starts – Higuain has scored just three times, all of them coming against the division’s bottom two sides in whipping boys Fulham and Huddersfield.

While Higuain has not been terrible in his overall play – and it is still early days – the Blues certainly will have expected more of an impact from the 31-year-old.

His lack of sharpness after returning from illness was again apparent in the 2-0 defeat to Everton on Sunday as he was hauled off in the 65th minute at Goodison Park.

Goals from Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson have thrown Chelsea's top four hopes into renewed doubt, as they are now three points behind Arsenal – who occupy the final Champions League place – and a point shy of Man Utd in fifthposition.

So far, it is fair to say that in a scoring sense, Higuain has been little to no improvement on Alvaro Morata, who boasted a similar record in his time at the club. Higuain’s performances may also lead the Blues to think twice about signing him permanently in the summer for £32 million from Juventus, regardless of what happens with their transfer ban.

A lack of goals has been a problem across the squad this season - the exception being Eden Hazard, who is the club's top scorer with 16 goals.

Hazard was the saviour against Wolves last time out, with a last-minute strike helping his side avoid an embarrassing home defeat. The Belgian has been involved in 48 per cent of his club's goals this campaign when you include assists.

Higuain was supposed to be a resolution to the over-reliance on Hazard, but just like his first half of the season on loan at AC Milan, the striker has not hit the ground running.

It is clear that to earn a permanent contract at Stamford Bridge he needs more goals, something Maurizio Sarri has admitted himself.

"For sure, he is one of the best strikers in my career," Sarri said in January. "It's up to him, I think. He has to score, first of all. I think that for a long-term contract, he has to do very well.

"He has to play. He has to score. He has to be useful for the team."

His movement, technique and mentality are not in question but his ability to score prolifically in the Premier League at 31 still is.

Sarri followed up with more comment about his frontman after the final whistle on Merseyside, who he feels has not done enough in his early career at the club.

"He can do more. He was improving, but then he had some problems at the beginning of the week," he said after the match in Liverpool. "He had a strong stomach fever so today it was normal that he could only play for 60 or 65 minutes. He needs to improve his physical and mental condition.

Meanwhile, Olivier Giroud's outstanding Europa League displays must be giving Sarri food for thought. The Frenchman has nine goals in seven starts in the competition this season and hit a hat-trick against Dynamo Kiev only three days ago.

With only eight games left in the Premier League and the quarter-finals now upon us in the Europa League, Chelsea are running out of time to qualify for next season’s Champions League via either competition. The message is simple to Higuain; he must start scoring immediately.

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