Gon­zalo Higuain

World Soccer - - Women's Football -

ar­ti­san worker or the busi­ness­man. Yes, I can per­mit my­self lux­u­ries de­nied to oth­ers but that’s the law of life. On the other hand, the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple can walk around the streets with­out ev­ery­one look­ing at them, and they do not have to jus­tify them­selves if they don’t want to stop to pose for a selfie.

“Be­fore get­ting to this point, I had it hard enough. I was only a young boy when I had to leave home, family and friends. I am a nor­mal per­son who likes do­ing nor­mal things, some­thing which is not al­ways pos­si­ble.”

In that same in­ter­view, he spoke of his football ori­gins and vi­sion, say­ing: “As a child, I played a lot in the street, to the

“I started off play­ing in at­tack and, given the re­sults, I stayed there”

ap­proval of my [ex-foot­baller] fa­ther. He would tell me: ‘Move this way, move that way, that’s the thing that re­ally gives a de­fender bother’. I started off play­ing in at­tack and given the re­sults, I stayed there.

“Lots of fans think that I am only in­ter­ested in scor­ing goals but that’s not true, I re­ally like to lay on a good pass and cre­ate space for team-mates.”

Born in France, to pro­fes­sional foot­baller Jorge Higuain and painter Nancy Zacarias in De­cem­ber 1987, his ar­rival came dur­ing the one year that his fa­ther played football out­side of Ar­gentina, namely for Brest. At the end of that sea­son, the family re­turned to Ar­gentina, where Gon­zalo was reared.

When he was coach of France, Ray­mond Domenech twice - in 2006 and 2008 – tried to per­suade Higuain to play for Les Bleus. How­ever, play­ing for River Plate at the time, he de­clined the of­fer and sub­se­quently ob­tained an Ar­gen­tinian pass­port. To this day, he re­tains French and Ar­gen­tinian dual cit­i­zen­ship.

A key fig­ure in the early years of Higuain’s ca­reer was the River Plate and Ar­gentina coach Daniel Pas­sarella, an old col­league of his fa­ther. As an 11-year-old, the young­ster had ac­com­pa­nied Higuain se­nior on a scout­ing trip to France on be­half of Pas­sarella, who at the time was Ar­gentina’s na­tional coach.

Later it was Pas­sarella, dur­ing his sec­ond stint in charge of River Plate, who gave Higuain an im­por­tant break, es­tab­lish­ing him as first-team reg­u­lar. He had joined River at the age of 10 from Buenos Aires lo­cal team, Atletico Palermo, mak­ing his River de­but in May 2005.

Good per­for­mances in 2006, in­clud­ing a Lib­er­ta­dores Cup dou­ble against Brazil­ian side Corinthi­ans, in­evitably at­tracted at­ten­tion on the other side of the At­lantic. In De­cem­ber 2006, on the ad­vice of then-coach Fabio Capello, Real Madrid bought Higuain for 12m.

With three Span­ish league ti­tles, 190 league games and 107 league goals in his six sea­sons with Real, it would be hard to ar­gue that Higuain was a fail­ure at Madrid. Yet for much of his time in the Span­ish cap­i­tal he was un­der pres­sure (in dif­fer­ent sea­sons) from the likes of Ruud Van Nis­tel­rooy, Raul, Karim Ben­zema and Cris­tiano Ron­aldo for his team place. Coaches such as Bernd Schus­ter and then later Jose Mour­inho had their doubts about where best to play him even if, when he lined up along­side Ben­zema and Ron­aldo in the 2011-12 sea­son, he formed part of a prolific at­tack that scored 118 goals, scor­ing 22 Liga goals him­self.

In the end, the de­sire for con­ti­nu­ity got the bet­ter of Higuain and Real let him go to Napoli for 40m in July 2013. Not only have Real never re­ally voiced any sense of re­gret about his de­par­ture for Italy but many Span­ish football com­men­ta­tors won­der if he re­ally was worth the cur­rent

90m price tag. But any­one who watched Higuain in ac­tion in Italy last sea­son would not have been sur­prised by Ju­ven­tus’ readi­ness to spend the money they got from sell­ing Paul Pogba on Higuain.

Clearly, Juve have bought Higuain to not only score lots of goals in Serie A, but also to score im­por­tant ones in the Cham­pi­ons League. And that will be the big­gest chal­lenge of his ca­reer so far.

Key fig­ure...Daniel Pas­sarella Real deal... at Madrid

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