[OP-ED]: Higuaín’s Odyssey
A saying reads only in his hometown is a prophet without honor. In Gonzalo “Pipita” Higuaín’s case the saying could apply to the country where he started playing soccer, Argentina, or to the one that adopted him as a young rising star, Spain.
After making his professional debut at the age of 17 with River Plate in the 2005-2006 season, Higuaín could not even finish his second year at the millionaires club, being transferred in December of 2006 to Real Madrid with another young prospect, midfielder Fernando Gago from Boca Juniors. Since his arrival in Madrid, “Pipita” became a fan favorite. He had excellent skills to get open and showed great potential. In the 2008-2009 season despite Real finishing second in La Liga, the Argentinean striker had a sensational year registering 22 goals.
Real Madrid’s president change did not help the young South American. Florentino Pérez came in ready to change everything Ramón Calderón had done at the helm of the white club. Pérez spent a lot of money and quickly signed Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaká and Karim Benzema. With the Frenchman meant to be Real’s center forward, the team’s sports department tried to find a way out for Higuaín. As it was not possible, the Argentinean stayed and registered a huge surprise by leading Real Madrid in scoring in the 2009-2010 season with 27 goals, even one ahead of Ronaldo. In fact, in the four years Benzema and Higuaín were together in Spain, the Argentinean always scored more goals than the Frenchman with the exception of the 2010-2011 period in which Higuaín sustained a back injury.
Despite his scoring efficiency “Pipita” never got the trust of Real’s front office and ended up being transferred to Naples in 2013. If he knew what awaited him in Italy, he would have probably left before…
The arrival of Higuaín got Naples’ fans very excited. Different from Madrid, he was also valued by the club’s soccer department. In his first year in calcio, the Argentinean became a reference for his new team, leading it to a second place in the league. Two more seasons in Southern Italy allowed Higuaín to establish himself as the World’s best pure center forward and a great icon for Napoli’s tifosi. In his third season in Italy, “Pipita” became the player with the most goals in the history of a Serie A season. By scoring 38 goals Higuaín broke the record established with 37 by Swedish Gunnar Nordahl in 1950.
Naples took advantage of the situation and transferred the star striker last summer to Juventus. The 90 million euros paid by the club from Turin made Higuaín the most expensive player in the history of calcio. The business was fantastic for the Neapolitan club, which bought the Argentinean from Real Madrid for 37 million.
Juventus’ objectives with Higuaín go further than only winning its local league. With the South American star, the Italian powerhouse wants to comeback to the peak of European soccer. Currently, Juventus has qualified to the second round of the Champions League and has an easy lead in Serie A, where Higuaín is again the top scorer, with 15 goals, thanks to delivering five scores in his last four games.
When he was younger than 20 and wanted to become a huge star in a team like Real Madrid, nobody would have predicted Higuaín would need to go to Italy, in a true Odyssey, to earn the well-deserved recognition he never received in Spain.