What is it with strikers plying their trade on the continent? First Edinson Cavani and now Gonzalo Higuain are being linked with huge moves to the Premier League after less than spectacular scoring runs in other European leagues. Napoli hit-man Higuain has been long mooted to make the move to these shores, with the Argentine international reported to be looking for a move following the Italian side’s failure to reach the Champions League with Arsenal in the frame.
The wantaway striker has endured two torrid summers for his national side, despite reaching the final of two cup competitions – culminating in an angry encounter with a fan who asked for his autograph earlier this week. The fan is reported to have joked about Higuain’s ability to take penalties after the Argentine rejected his proposal. This seems to be a sore spot for the former Real Madrid front man, following two crucial misses from the spot over the last few months.
First came the wayward effort against Lazio in Serie A, costing his side the chance to compete in next season’s Champions League. Up until then, he had been his side’s best player – scoring two goals to level the scores. However, when the pressure was on Higuain ballooned the ball over the bar, and Lazio went on to win the tie. Just a few months later, Higuain yet again fluffed his lines. His wild spot kick flew all too familiarly over the bar in the Copa America final against hosts Chile, with Alexis Sanchez stepping up to win the title soon after.
It is not just the penalties that will haunt Higuain for the rest of his days. During the aforementioned final in Chile, he had the chance to put his side in front in the dying embers of the game. On one last break from their own half, Lionel Messi and Ezquiel Lavezzi combined to conjure up a glorious opportunity for Gonzalo to finish. Instead, he missed. An empty net to roll the ball into was left unscathed as the ball trickled out for a goal kick. A penalty shootout would soon begin and we’ve already discussed what happened there.
Before that was the World Cup final of 2014 in Brazil. A cagey affair between Argentina and Germany left little room for many clear cut chances during the opening 90 minutes of the spectacle, barring one memorable miss. A rare German mistake left a gaping hole in their defence, affording Higuain a clear run on goal. Whether it was nerves or not, Higuain wasted the glorious chance as his tame shot harmlessly rolled wide of Manuel Neuer’s goal.
A lack of composure appears to be his biggest problem. To judge a player on a couple of games does seem harsh, especially when they have played for Real Madrid almost 200 times. He must be doing something right, and he is. There’s no doubt he is a decent player, and could improve a lot of teams. However, for the money talked about, top Premier League clubs should steer clear.
No doubt a crazily expensive package would have to be put in place to bring the Argentine striker to the Premier League. He appears to have found his level at Napoli, plying his trade at a club with just a tad less expectation to be challenging for top honours. His lack of composure in big games would inevitably be exposed for the likes of Arsenal.