Having scored 111 Serie A goals in five seasons with Napoli and Juventus, Gonzalo Higuaín is quite some player; UEFA.com counts the striker’s blessings after his move to AC Milan.

EUROPA LEAGUE GROUP STAGE

What they say

“He’s a top striker. The most important thing is his movement – it is that of a very intelligent forward. He makes the other attackers’ lives easy because he plays in behind and opens up a lot of space.”
José Mourinho, former Real Madrid coach






Watch five great Higuaín goals

“I will treat him like a son who made his father very angry. You can get angry but then you always forgive your son. I owe him a lot because he had an incredible season with me. He made me angry but that’s in the past.”
Maurizio Sarri, former Napoli coach (after Higuaín left for Juventus in 2016)

“He goes crazy when he does not score. It’s in his nature. I remember a match where we were both on the bench and he didn’t have any nails left by the end. He told me he just had to score when he came on. It’s all he thinks about.”
Patrice Evra, former Juventus team-mate

“‘Pipa’ is a phenomenon. He’s an animal in the penalty box. You don’t want anyone else with the ball at their feet in the box: he will score.”
Leonardo Bonucci

“If you had a ‘Higuaín cam’ during a match, you’d see that for 90% of our attacking play he is alone in the box, and that’s not because defenders switch off. Before the ball arrives, he makes two or three movements and counter-movements to shake off his marker.”
Giorgio Chiellini, Juventus defender

Current tally




Higuaín with Madrid in 2007


Higuaín with Madrid in 2007©Getty Images

International: 75 appearances, 31 goals
UEFA club competition: 98 appearances, 32 goals
European domestic competition: 407 appearances, 230 goals

Claims to fame

Real Madrid
• Recruited from River Plate, he scored his first Real Madrid goal in a derby at Atlético – a 1-1 draw in February 2007.

• Developing his full potential in the Spanish capital, he bagged all four Madrid goals in a 4-3 victory over Málaga in November 2008.

• Registered more Liga goals than team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009/10, ending the campaign with 27; Lionel Messi (34) was the only player to outscore him in Spain’s top flight that season.

• A title winner for a third time in 2011/12, he claimed his 100th Liga goal in February 2013 against Deportivo. He eventually departed for Napoli in summer 2013 with a tally of 121 goals in 164 Madrid outings across all competitions.




Higuaín celebrates scoring a goal for Napoli


Higuaín celebrates scoring a goal for Napoli©AFP/Getty Images

Napoli
• Signed to replace Paris Saint-Germain-bound Edinson Cavani, ‘El Pipita’ notched 17 Serie A goals and won the Coppa Italia in his first term in Italy; he then scored twice from open play (and again in the shoot-out) as Napoli beat Juve on penalties to take the 2014 Italian Super Cup.

• Having struck 35 times in his first two Serie A campaigns combined, Higuaín hit a stunning 36 in 35 games in 2015/16, including a last-day hat-trick which enabled him to break the division’s 66-year single-season record held by AC Milan great Gunnar Nordahl. “I had such a huge desire to beat the record,” he said after his treble against Frosinone.

• Averaged over 30 goals a season in all competitions in his three years with Napoli: 91 in 146 games.

• Netted 15 goals in Europe to go joint second in Napoli’s all-time European leading scorers list – level with Marek Hamšík; only Cavani, with 19, scored more.




Higuaín is scoring regularly for Juventus


Higuaín is scoring regularly for Juventus©Getty Images

Juventus
• Following a €90m transfer – the most expensive in Italian history – he scored on his Juve debut in a 2-1 success over Fiorentina.

• Sang the praises of Napoli coach Sarri as he moved on, saying: “Sarri has been a great coach for me, and if he’s angry about me leaving without saying goodbye, then I apologise – I can only thank him.”

• The Argentine equalled his previous best run by finding the target in six straight Serie A fixtures from 11 December 2016 to 29 January 2017.

• Amassed 40 goals in 73 league matches for the Old Lady during two years in Turin before heading to Milan in summer 2018.

• Higuaín also scooped a Scudetto-Coppa Italia double in both seasons with Juventus and went close to UEFA Champions League glory in 2017, denied by former club Madrid in the Cardiff showpiece. 

What you might not know




Diego Maradona: another ex-Napoli man who scored a few


Diego Maradona: another ex-Napoli man who scored a few©Getty Images

• Like David Trezeguet, Higuaín was born in France to Argentinian parents; unlike Trezeguet, he chose to represent Argentina at senior level.

• The forward was born in Brest, Brittany, in 1987 while his father, defender Jorge Higuaín, was playing for Stade Brestois. His father was nicknamed ‘Pipa’ for his supposedly big nose; thus, his son was dubbed ‘Pipita’ (approximate translation: little big nose).

• Has football on both sides of his family. His mother, Nancy Zacarías – a painter of Palestinian extraction – had two footballing brothers, most notably Claudio Zacarías, who suffered a serious hand injury while playing for San Lorenzo when a bomb went off in their dressing room. His determination to play again was an inspiration to Higuaín.

• A bout of meningitis when he was a ten-month-old baby ensured his relationship with his mother is especially close. “Since I developed meningitis, my relationship with my mother is special,” he said.

• His older brother Federico is also a striker, currently playing in the United States with Columbus Crew. The 33-year-old – once of Beşiktaş – is three years older but 12cm shorter than Gonzalo.




Higuaín after scoring for Argentina


Higuaín after scoring for Argentina©AFP/Getty Images

• Is one of just three foreign-born players to have represented Argentina at a FIFA World Cup, along with Spanish-born Pedro Suárez and Paraguayan-born Constantino Urbieta Sosa.

• His hat-trick against South Korea in 2010 made him the third Argentinian to claim a treble at a World Cup final tournament after Guillermo Stabile in 1930 and Gabriel Batistuta in 1998.

• Gained some interesting scars during his first term at Napoli, requiring eight stitches (to his jaw and eyebrow) after slipping and falling onto rocks while relaxing in a boat off the gulf of Naples.

What he says

“As Van Nistelrooy used to tell me, goals are like ketchup. If you try too hard, they won’t come. And when they do come out, they all come at once.”

“Is football like art? Of course. When you score a beautiful goal, from a move of five to six passes that your opponents can’t stop, that’s art.

“It’s hunger that makes you win, even if you’ve done it before. I don’t feel any pressure. In fact, it’s a privilege for me to think Juventus bought me when they were thinking about winning in Europe.”




Ronaldo during his time at Inter


Ronaldo during his time at Inter©Getty Images

“When I was younger I used to watch a lot of Italian football because of the great strikers in Serie A – Trezeguet, Batistuta, [Hernán] Crespo and [Vincenzo] Montella. And then Ronaldo, the greatest of all time in my opinion.”

What he might achieve yet

• After landing two Scudettos in as many years in Turin, a European club medal is the biggest thing missing from Higuaín’s cabinet; can he pick one up this season?

• He featured at the 2018 World Cup with three appearances in Russia but his last international goal dates back to October 2016, a drought he will be eager to banish.

• With 31 international strikes, Higuaín is three shy of Diego Maradona and four off Crespo who occupies third place on Argentina’s all-time list. Overtaking those two would be some achievement.



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