The misunderstood genius of Gonzalo Higuain
A bottler, a tap-in merchant and a fat fraud are just some of the names Gonzalo Higuain has been called in his 10-year career in Europe, but he continues to prove the critics wrong.
The Argentinian refuses to let the abuse he receives get to him, as his 248 goals in 475 games in Europe proves. That’s more than one goal every other game, and at Real Madrid, he played less than 20 games in two seasons, and less than 30 in two other seasons, showing how prolific the Juventus number nine is.
In his past two seasons, at Napoli and Juventus, the Argentinian has scored 70 goals in 97 games in all competitions. These are phenomenal numbers bettered only by the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez, indicating how highly regarded Higuain should be.
However, abuse is hurled at the 29-year-old each and every day on Twitter. Below are just a couple of the tweets aimed at the Argentinian.
Sergio Aguero has never scored a World Cup goal for Argentina. This is in stark contrast to Higuain’s 5 goals from two World Cups and more competitive goals for Argentina.
Now, guess who is the one who is blamed for Argentina’s miserable qualifying campaign, the reason for not winning the World Cup in 2014 and finishing second in two consecutive Copa America’s. That’s right, it’s Higuain.
Aguero doesn’t deserve online trolls either, but it doesn’t make sense why the Argentinian is always made the scapegoat when it comes to his national team’s problems. Yes, he may have missed a couple of glorious opportunities in finals, but all strikers miss chances.
He will have been desperate to put those chances away but it just didn’t happen for him in that moment. His goal record clearly speaks for itself and he has a history of scoring those chances but he was just unable to in that moment in time.
Furthermore, Higuain has made a difficult start to this current season. He has just three goals in eight games and is being outshone by Paulo Dybala, who is scoring goals for fun in Serie A at the moment.
By no means does Higuain deserve to escape criticism, but his record in Serie A speaks for itself. His lowest goal tally in four seasons in Italy is 17, suggesting there will still be many goals to come from the Juventus striker.
It seems he is mainly judged for his time for the national team, where it is always going to be more difficult for him with the pressure of playing with Messi or fighting for a place and sometimes being left out for Aguero, or Icardi, or Dybala.
There is a huge amount of talent at Argentina but no players are performing, so why should he take all the blame for their problems and their struggle to qualify for the World Cup? He shouldn’t and it's extremely unfair.
Additionally, for those who believe Higuain ‘bottles’ one on ones, or misses easy chances, a stat analyst on Twitter, Ted Knutson, who analyses expected goals, produced a graphic in January that shows the 29-year-old scores more than he is expected to.
From 59 shots up until January, he was expected to score around eight, but converted 12, before doubling that tally from January until the end of the season. Additionally, something that must be considered is Knutson analyses all strikers in world football regularly and stated that Higuain is pretty much his favourite forward since he started producing stats graphics.
All in all, it is so obvious that Higuain doesn't deserve the criticism he receives just because of some poor games with Argentina. Everyone has poor games, even Messi and Ronaldo. Why does Higuain need to be told he was marked out of a game or pocketed by a specific defender every time it happens?
That doesn't happen to Dybala every time he doesn't score, or Aguero when he doesn't. He is quite comfortably one of the greatest goal scorers in Europe, and from the small amount of spotlight his game receives, you wouldn't believe that. The abuse hurled at the Argentinian should stop, as he deserves a lot better.
Higuain may have had some tough times for Argentina, but he is a world-class player who needs to be given more respect.