Ciao Gonzalo! Italian Football Bids Farewell To Recordman Higuain

It’s that time of the year again. The summer transfer market. A time to welcome new exciting arrivals to our favorite clubs, and unfortunately a time to wave goodbye for some of our most beloved sports heroes. This summer, the Italian football world is set to bid farewell to the man who shattered the Serie A goalscoring record with 36 goals during the 2015-2016 season, as Gonzalo Higuain is about to join David Beckham’s American revolution at Inter Miami.

When a footballer earns a big-money move to one of the biggest clubs in Europe before his 20th birthday, it means he must be a special talent. Such were the expectations when Fabio Cappello’s Real Madrid signed Gonzalo Higuain in December 2006. The young Argentine quickly adapted to his new environment and managed to help the Italian “professor” in snatching an unlikely La Liga title from their rivals Barcelona.

Gonzalo’s stint in Madrid is an unusual one. Despite proving himself as a capable and promising striker, he wasn’t really treated as a top player by the club, as successive managers and presidents kept buying “their own” top players.

From Raul and Ruud van Nistelrooy to Ronaldo and Karim Benzema, throughout the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, and Alvaro Morata, the River Plate youth product had to fight hard for his place in Los Merengues‘ squad, and repeatedly prove himself deserving of wearing the famous white shirt.

Before reaching the Serie A shores, a young Gonzalo Higuain spent the first part of his career in Madrid

Nonetheless, Higuain was just never meant to be a part of Florentino Perez’s project. While the returning president was trying to recreate the Galacticos of his early noughties stint, an “Anti-Star” like El Pipita just wouldn’t fit in. With his thin hair, casual beard, and not-so-perfect physique, we all have at least one teammate from our football park team who looks a little bit like Gonzalo.

Thus, the Argentine finally left the Spanish capital in the summer of 2013, and although he almost joined Arsenal, Napoli shocked the football world by signing one of the most sought-after strikers in the world, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Due to his Argentine origins, the Campania crowds adopted Gonzalo as their new favorite son before even kicking a ball, and luckily for them, he did repay their love on the field. Spearheading Rafael Benitez’s new regime, Higuain became an instant hit at Napoli, ending his first season in Italy with 24 league goals. The Anti-Star had finally become the Top Man at his club.

While his second season at the club under Rafa Benitez brought some mixed results, the arrival of Maurizio Sarri instigated the undisputed best season of Higuain’s career, who ended up breaking Serie A’s scoring record in one season (which was set 66 years earlier by Gunnar Nordahl), after scoring 36 goals in 35 matches. And although Ciro Immobile recently equalized this tally, it must be said that the Lazio bomber scored 14 penalty goals last season, while Higuain only scored 3 from the spot-kick in 2015-2016.

In Napoli, Higuain became an authentic idol. Gonzalo will not easily forget the night of May 14, 2016, when he broke the Serie A goalscoring record with a hat-trick to Frosinone

Despite his personal achievements, Napoli were frustrated at the end of the season after failing to secure the Scudetto title despite leading the table during the winter, and problems between the Argentine striker and club president Aurelio De Laurentiis began to surface. By the end of the summer, Juventus broke their transfer record to secure the signature of Higuain for an enormous 94M euros, with both the player and the volcanic Napoli president blaming each other for the incredibly sour taste that was left in the Partenopei fans’ mouths.

Once again, Gonzalo quickly won the hearts of his new fan-base, scoring the winner against Fiorentina just minutes after making his Juventus debut in the second half.

Although he would never again reach the heights of his record-breaking season, his first season at Juventus was overall successful, as the former Madrid striker scored one decisive goal after the other, including one against his former employers Napoli at the San Paolo stadium, and his partnership with his compatriot Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic almost led the club to a long-awaited Champions League glory.

Higuain’s second season wasn’t as fruitful as his first, but nonetheless, his last-minute goal against Inter at the San Siro will be fondly remembered by the Bianconeri fans as the goal that brought the club’s 7th straight Scudetto at the time when Napoli were about to break the Juventus winning dynasty.

Later in the summer, the Cristiano Ronaldo “hurricane” hit Turin in full force, with Gonzalo being the main casualty as Juventus decided to sacrifice the Argentine to accommodate the arrival of the Portuguese megastar and his outrageous salary.

Higuain was definitely forced out of Juventus, saying otherwise would be denying the obvious truth, and sadly he had to spend the 2018-2019 season unsuccessfully campaigning between Milano and London.

Gonzalo Higuain’s latest seasons at Juventus were not as successful as the previous ones. At 32, the Argentine is now bidding farewell to the Serie A to try his hand at the MLS

His Milan stint started decently, with a last-minute assist to Patrick Cutrone sealing a win against Roma, but then he never really recovered from a long goal-drought which was unusual for his standards.

In January, a reunion with his favorite coach Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea was supposed to revive his season, but it eventually failed to do the trick as he ended his spell in England without any meaningful memory to speak of.

In the summer of 2019, Higuain and Sarri were reunited for the third time by chance when the former Napoli boss was appointed at the helm of Juventus. Naturally, the Tuscan tactician preferred to keep his old pupil by his side and instead exiled Mario Mandzukic from the squad.

But the Higuain who returned to Italy was just never the same. For personal reasons, he decided to wear the number 21 jersey instead of his original number 9. And just like Superman is only Clark Kent without his magical red cape, the record-breaking Higuain was only Gonzalo without his no. 9 jersey, turning from a goal machine into a forward who’s just happy to contribute for the team and support his more prolific teammates. Thus, all parties must agree that the striker’s illustrious career in Italian football should be ended sooner rather than later for the sake of everyone involved.

And so, as the Argentine is set to spend the twilight of his career enjoying the sunny Miami beaches, Italian Football must bid farewell to yet another departing legend of calcio, a legend that is leaving behind a set of fans who adore him and another set that despises him.

He leaves some great memories and some other sorrowful ones but above all some records and goals that will forever live in the calcio archives.

After all, aren’t these the traits of every legend?