It’s a hard life. Professional football is a swampy land filled with pitfalls, some of which are deep. Gonzalo Higuain’s excavations have seen a few such cavities. Now he’s in a Milan-shaped void, which may not be so fruitful.
The omnipotent, all-knowing, deity of football, Cristiano Ronaldo, changes everything. A red carpet entrance wasn’t enough for the new king of Turin. He wanted heads on a spike. When you’ve spent 70 million on one player, naturally you must balance the books. Those who try to oppose CR7 in his position will not only find exile on the bench but a sharp decline as well. Having to wait for his off day (few and far between) or his injury, then having the immeasurable and unassailable task of playing in his boots, nobody compares.
A casualty of the Ronaldo revolution
Long story short: Gonzalo Higuain and Juventus decided it would be better for all parties if would leave, at least for the season. This after just two years ago he became the 9th most expensive footballer in the world, after signing for around £76 million from Napoli. Weird? Yeah. Compelling, oh yes.
The young El Pipita played his way out of the River Plate academy and quickly to the forefront of European football. He secured a place with Real Madrid back in 2007 where he was among the best. He was, however, never a Galactico and he’s certainly not honored in the same way other forwards at Real have been. That said, he still enjoyed success. Three league titles, and a decent number of starts. Even if his appearances were jagged in some seasons, he managed to rack up 121 goals for the club — not that bad a legacy by any standards.
The merry-go-round that is the Real Madrid manager’s seat created instability at the club and as a result, Higuain fell out of favor. He was transfer listed and he went to Napoli.
Making history in Napoli
There, of course, helped establish Napoli to the side they are now. Dreaming of grandeur. In their minds, up there with the very best, just needing a Serie A title to vindicate it. He, of course, made his own history there, scoring 36 goals in the 15/16 season alone. That equaled the all-time record for most goals scored in a single season in Italy. The goals were enough to attract the big boys of Italy, Juventus.
Fast forward to now. He was good for the Old Lady, but a shadow of the incarnation previously seen at Napoli. Two league titles were won; but, now, he’s been severed from the club.
Higuain will now play his football in Milan. I appreciate that the Rossoneri are indeed a very important club, part of the traditional Italian big three. Sadly, these days they aren’t challenging for the league title as Napoli and Roma are now the closest dreamers to Juventus who possess a vice-like grip on the Serie A title.
A career in reverse
So where does Gonzalo sit and how does the club serve him? Well, it’s almost a rewinding process. When he went to Napoli expectations were low. He was a big fish in a medium-sized Italian pond. The waters of the San Siro are more refined and probably cleaner, it emulates the Real Madrid-Napoli move. He’s moving from a bigger club with the higher expectation to a club in a rebuilding phase.
The beauty of playing at the San Paolo was that he was the man, Mr. Napoli if you will. The figurehead bringing the club forward. Untouchable in his position, unplayable against. The goals came, but the silverware didn’t. That said, the trophies may have been coming should he — and Maurizio Sarri — have stayed there.
Jumping ship to Turin offered him an easier chance to win games and trophies. 16 goals is a good season for most, and that’s what he got last season – yet it still wasn’t enough to save his skin when Ronaldo entered the club.
Higuain fits the mold
Milan needs a new strike force. Last year they limped to 6th place but scored relatively few goals. Cutrone a youngster at just 20 years old scored 10 and finished as the club’s top scorer. The South American fits the mold is arguably better at non-Juventus Italian clubs. He can go in and help the club for the year for sure.
Where exactly is his head? In Milan, with the team? Or is this just a year-long project to impress Allegri? Will he play for the shirt he’s wearing or the shirt he wants to wear next season? A loan deal offers no security that Juventus won’t just reclaim him in 12 months’ time. Should CR7 flop and want out come March. Gonzalo will just reclaim his place next year and Milan still won’t have a good striker.
It looks like he will play as the sole forward this year. This position and responsibility should afford him a plethora of goals — it’s whether he’s up for another rebuilding phase. He’ll have to take Milan where he took Napoli when he first arrived in Italy.