Gonzalo Higuain: Milan's Marksman

With so much turmoil this summer and so many changes in such a short time, it’s been impossible to welcome our new players properly with a player profile. So during this international break, it seemed fitting to start with the new player who has immediately cemented a place for himself in our starting eleven: Higuain.

Unveiled like a champ, trolls like a hero

Gonzalo Gerardo Higuain is known as an Argentinian footballer, but he was actually born in France. And the reason he was born there is because his father, Jorge Higuain, also a footballer, was playing in France at the time. Like his teammate Rodriguez, he also has siblings who are footballers. Most notably, his older brother, Federico Higuain, plays in the MLS for the Columbus Crew. By birth, he was a French citizen, even though he left France before he turned one year old, and he actually doesn’t even speak French. But he finally applied for Argentine citizenship in 2007 and now holds dual citizenship.

The Higuain boys, with Gonzalo in the center and his MLS-playing brother to his left

Higuain, best known as “Pipita” or “el Pipa,” began his career as a youth in the River Plate system, where he also spent the first  two years of his senior career playing for the senior team. He had 15 goals in 29 appearances, and that’s when Real Madrid came calling.

A young Pipita celebrates at River Plate

His time at Real Madrid was impressive, even if he lacked the international star and name recognition of players like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Which is ironic, because in the 2009-10 season, he was actually La Liga’s second top scorer with 29 goals in all, only behind Messi. But still ahead of Ibra and his teammate Ronaldo. In all, he would play for Real Madrid for six and a half seasons, scoring 107 goals in 190 appearances. While he was there, he would help them lift three La Liga titles, a Copa del Rey, and two Supercopa de España trophies.

Higuain an essential player amongst the "Galacticos"

From there, he went to Napoli in 2013. He became something of a legend, scoring 71 goals in 104 appearances. In fact, in the 2015-16 season, he sat out a brutal three match ban, and still was Serie A’s capocannoniere with 36 goals. The runner up only had 19 goals. Shockingly, he had a tough time dealing with Napoli’s ridiculous owner, De Laurentiis. I don’t know why the man who goes on a tirade then jumps on the back of some stranger’s scooter seems to burn relationships with nearly every important player he manages to sign, but in 2016, Pipita left the club.

Higuain scoring for Juve against his former Napoli, including former and current teammate Reina

Higuain’s move to Juventus broke all kinds of records, including highest transfer fee (at the time) for a South American player, and the highest ever transfer fee for an Italian club (until Ronaldo this year.) Despite Juve fans’ repugnant body shaming of the Argentine star, he scored 40 goals in 71 appearances for the club over two seasons. Milan fans will remember that he scored both goals last season to give Juve the win at the San Siro during Montella’s reign of terror. Higuain helped Juve to two Scudetti and two Coppa Italia titles for the ungrateful wretches during his two years in Turin.

While Higuain was happy at Juventus, he became surplus when his former Real Madrid teammate came to Juventus this past summer. Juve were so anxious to get him off of their roster that they were willing to loan him to us for a paid loan of €18 million, with an option to buy for €36 million in two installments. Which was ideal for us, with FFP concerns, and it seems to have worked out well so far for all parties involved. Juve got an even older striker for more money who currently has 23 shots and zero goals in Serie A. And Milan got a 30 year-old striker who is a better team player, even giving the assist on the winning goal on Friday rather than score himself. I’m good.

His wife and daughter, whom he described as better than a goal at the Maracana

Higuain has actually always been a team player, creating chances as much as he scores, playing unselfishly and yet still scoring double digits every season. He somehow flies below the radar of crashing sports cars, partying, womanizing, and social media. In fact, he is a very private person. However with some effort, I learned that he is married to the lovely Lara Wechsler, and they have a daughter, Alma, who was born this past May. He also divulged that he nearly quit football a couple of years ago when his mother became very ill. However, with her blessing, he continued, and now she is healthy again, too. I think what makes him different from the “big” stars who score comparable amounts of goals is his philosophy: “The most important thing in life, when you leave football, is to be a good person and have people who love you.” He is so grounded and keeps his life so simple, and I believe that is one of his biggest keys to his success.

One criticism of Pipita is that he misses big in big games. Which, as a player who represents Argentina, is just par for the course, really. As one of only three players ever to represent Argentina despite being born outside of the country, he has 31 goals for Argentina in 75 appearances, and has represented his country in three different World Cups and three Copa America tournaments, coming in second at one of each. Consider that, unlike our cugini's Argentine striker, he actually gets called up for his country. Plus, I don’t see this as much as a problem that inflicts him as much as a mentality that impacts all of the players who play for Argentina. And certainly his goal counts show that he is very, very consistent. Something we’ve desperately needed for a long time in a striker. Now he can mentor Cutrone, as well, he might just be our perfect player right now.

Playing for Coach Maradona in 2010

Bringing Higuain to Milan was enough for many fans to forget Leonardo’s sordid past (but not me, I’m still watching you, snake.) And with good reason. He is a tremendously solid striker capable of scoring and creating goals in the double digits like we have needed for so long. He brings confidence to fans and stability to a position that has been rotating players through like members of Donald Trump’s cabinet. He’s like the star striker we needed, but without all of the drama. Most importantly, however, he is a marksman, skilled and ready to fire on target at will. It’s no surprise he is considered our signing of the season, and I hope that he feels at home here and will stay and guide Milan to much success in the future.

This post inspired by the music of Front 242’s “Headhunter”

Gonzalo Higuain: Milan's Marksman Gonzalo Higuain: Milan's Marksman Reviewed by Elaine on 10:07 PM Rating: 5
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