Statistics in La Liga and Serie A may show that Gonzalo Higuain is one of the world’s top strikers, unreliability is the forward’s most reliable feature
Hailed by many as one of the best centre forwards in the world, Gonzalo Higuain has undoubtedly been a protagonist in the world of football for the past decade. But he really isn’t that good. Now at 31-years-old, his career has shown how, on too many occasions, he hasn’t lived up to the hype and expectations, and ended up being offloaded by his clubs and never missed.
The Argentinian boasts 31 goals in 75 international caps, and a total of 290 goals in 567 games at club level. The numbers are indeed impressive overall, but if dissected per season we find out that apart from the Serie A record-breaking tally of 36 goals in 2016, he has never scored more than 27, surpassing the 20-goal mark on just five occasions in his 12 years in Europe. Looking just at recent years, he has 17, 18, 36, 24, 16 since leaving Real Madrid. Good, but not at the level of the top number 9’s in Europe.
His goals translate to 12 trophies, of which five are domestic league titles (three with Real Madrid and two with Juventus), without any European achievement or silverware with Argentina. Considering how highly-rated he has been for some time, this comes as a bit of a disappointment.
His La Liga titles came in 2007 and 2008, when he was still a relative youngster and not a main man for the team, and then in 2012. With Juventus he joined to take them to European glory, as the Bianconeri had already been able to win Serie A for five consecutive seasons. He failed, being non-existent in the Champions League final in Cardiff in 2017.
This has been one of the main problems throughout his career, and something that, at 31, it doesn’t look like he’ll ever solve: bottling vital moments. Argentinians – with Lionel Messi probably being the first one – will never forgive him for that missed chance against Germany in the 2014 World Cup final.
He then had the opportunity to redeem himself against Chile in the 2015 Copa America, missing an open goal chance and then firing his penalty wide in the final. A year later, still in the Copa America and still against Chile, he missed another clear chance. With a different striker next to him, Messi could have perhaps lifted the World Cup and two Copa America titles.
The switching off in crucial moments is recurrent even at a much lower level than a World Cup. With Napoli in 2014/15, he firstly didn’t perform against Dnipro in the Europa League semifinal, with his team being knocked out, and then two weeks later he missed the penalty against Lazio on the final day of the season that could have meant a top three finish in Serie A.
He hasn’t been at AC Milan long enough to properly judge this spell, but he definitely hasn’t had a great impact, and will be remembered for missing the penalty and being sent off against former club Juventus, and being part of the Rossoneri side that got knocked out in the Europa League group stages.
Last, but by no means least, he was dropped by Real Madrid and Juventus, and not missed at all. He left Napoli to join Juve, and despite scoring 36 goals in his last season in Naples, he hasn’t been missed. Madrid went on to win four Champions League titles without him, Juve now have Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s always been an upgrade after Higuain.
Rumours say he could soon join Chelsea and his mentor, Maurizio Sarri. You can expect him to score a few, but by no means can he lift the team to another level. His career has shown the exact opposite on too many occasions.