Gonzalo Higuain finds himself at a delicate crossroads late in his career. At one time regarded as the best striker in Serie A, the 31-year-old has seen an almighty dip in over the last 12 months.
The emotionally fragile striker was told in no uncertain terms that with the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, the Higuain era at Juventus was over. Pipita tried his best to argue his case, even returning from vacation in lean shape (arguably the leanest he’d ever been), but the dye was already cast.
What followed was a nine-month car crash of a season: shipped off on loan to Milan, Higuain started brightly enough, scoring five times in the opening months, and then came the game against Juventus in November.
On a bloody-minded mission to prove that his parent club made a mistake in ruthlessly discarding him, Higuain slowly unraveled before a worldwide audience and 78,000 people inside San Siro. Having won a penalty for Milan after Mehdi Benatia intercepted his run with a hand, Higuain duly missed with a tame effort that could’ve restored parity in the game.
Five minutes after Ronaldo made it 2-0 late in the game, Higuain’s descent into desperation was complete when he got himself sent off for remonstrating with referee Paolo Mazzoleni a little too enthusiastically. Higuain went ballistic and had to be forcibly held back by Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli and his old teammate Giorgio Chiellini.
Higuain never recovered. He scored once more for Milan before they realised that he wasn’t justifying the hefty wages they’d agreed to take on with Juve. He was then sent on loan to Chelsea, with Juve hoping that Higuain’s old mentor Maurizio Sarri could reinvigorate him.
The Argentine looked cumbersome in the Premier League, and in 14 matches registered only five goals. Unsurprisingly, Chelsea also opted out of making the loan permanent and returned to sender at the end of the season.
Now back at Juve, Higuain by all accounts is digging his heels in and refusing to consider a third move away from Turin. Yet is it pointedly obvious that he isn’t wanted by the club, nor even by Sarri, who has a ludicrous selection of attacking talent at his disposal.
A switch to Roma, who have been linked to Higuain all summer, would arguably be the best for him at this stage of his career. At Roma he would be a guaranteed starter, and whilst the pressure in Rome can be filled with fishbowl-like intensity, there isn’t the same pressure as Juve and Milan.
With the departures of Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas, Higuain could be looked upon as a senior member of a fairly young, inexperienced squad. Despite his fragile tendencies, this might be a challenge he accepts, and, if he gets his head right, he could potentially guide Roma back into the top four.
The potential for this to be a move that suits all parties is big. Whether or not Higuain accepts the journey south is a different matter. It could be the beginning of his resurgence, to reclaim his reputation a striker to be feared. It could just be a reminder as to why Juventus paid €90m for him three years ago.