Gonzalo Higuaín

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Gonzalo Higuaín
Dinamo-Napoli (10).jpg
Higuaín with S.S.C. Napoli in 2015
Personal information
Full name Gonzalo Gerardo Higuain
Date of birth (1987-12-10) 10 December 1987 (age 28)
Place of birth Brest, France
Height 1.84 m (6 ft 12 in)[1]
Playing position Striker
Club information
Current team
Napoli
Number 9
Youth career
1999–2005 River Plate
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2005–2007 River Plate 35 (13)
2007–2013 Real Madrid 190 (107)
2013– Napoli 93 (59)
National team
2008 Argentina U23 1 (2)
2009– Argentina 54 (25)

* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 7 February 2016.
† Appearances (goals)

‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 18 November 2015

Gonzalo Gerardo Higuaín (Spanish pronunciation: [ɡonˈsalo iɣwaˈin], born 10 December 1987) is a French-born Argentine professional footballer who plays for Italian club Napoli and the Argentina national team as a striker.

Nicknamed El Pipita or Pipa,[2] as was his father, Jorge, Gonzalo Higuaín was born in France, attaining Argentine citizenship in 2007, and now holds dual nationality.[3] He started his career with Argentine club River Plate, before a transfer to Real Madrid in January 2007 for €12 million. His time in Spain saw him win honours including three La Liga titles, and score 107 goals in 190 league appearances. He joined Italian side Napoli for €40 million in the summer of 2013, where he won the Coppa Italia during his first season.

A full international for Argentina since 2009, Higuaín has represented the country at two FIFA World Cups and as many Copa América tournaments, helping them to second place at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2015 Copa América.

Early life[edit]

Higuaín was born in Brest, France, the son of the Argentine former footballer Jorge Higuaín, who was playing for Stade Brestois 29 as an expatriate. Therefore, he holds dual French-Argentine nationality. Having left the country at the age of 10 months, he did not return to France until the 1998 FIFA World Cup. Even though he does not speak French, he holds a French passport because his father was naturalized in France. He successfully applied for Argentine nationality in January 2007.[3] Higuaín has two elder brothers, Nicolas and Federico, the latter of which plays for MLS club Columbus Crew SC as a deep-lying forward,[4] and one younger brother, Lautaro.[5]

Club career[edit]

River Plate[edit]

Higuaín started playing in the youth teams and made his debut with River Plate in a 2–1 defeat against Gimnasia y Esgrima de La Plata on 29 May 2005.[6] On 12 February 2006, he scored his first league goal in a 3–1 victory over Banfield.[7] Higuaín ended the 2005–06 season with five goals in 12 appearances.[8]

Following his brace in the Superclásico derby against Boca Juniors on 8 October 2006, River Plate manager Daniel Passarella declared that Higuaín had an "enormous future" and was "destined for superstardom."[9] In the following season, he scored 10 goals in 17 league matches.[8]

Real Madrid[edit]

2006–07 season[edit]

In December 2006, Spanish club Real Madrid signed Higuaín for €12 million from River Plate. His debut came on 11 January 2007 against Real Betis in the second round of the Copa del Rey in Seville. His first league game came 3 days later, on 14 January 2007, against Real Zaragoza at home. Higuaín was involved in the creation of numerous scoring chances and in the assistance for the only goal, which earned Madrid the victory. His first goal with Real came on 24 February when the team faced Atlético Madrid in the Madrid derby, the equaliser (1–1) at the Estadio Vicente Calderón. Later on the season, Higuaín showed an impressive performance by scoring a last-minute goal in a league match against Espanyol to earn his team a 4–3 win.[10] However, during his first season in the Bernabéu, Higuaín raised some doubts over his performance due to his lack of goals.

2007–08 season[edit]

During the 2007–08 season, Higuaín played inconsistently. However, he finished strongly at the end of the season. He first scored a last minute goal to earn his team a victory in a 2–1 comeback against Osasuna, which allowed Real Madrid to be mathematically crowned League Champions for the second consecutive year.[11] Four days later, he scored the 3rd goal of a 4–1 thrashing of Barcelona in El Clásico. The goal was scored just 57 seconds after he came off the bench.[12]

2008–09 season[edit]

In the 2008–09 season Higuaín was offered the chance to be a starter due to the serious injury suffered by the Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy.[13] On 21 April 2009, he played very well in the match against Getafe and scored the decisive goal in the last minute, giving Real Madrid a 3–2 victory which enabled the team to follow the trail of Josep Guardiola's Barcelona.[14] In August 2008, Higuaín scored the winner in Madrid's victory over Valencia in the Spanish Supercup.[15] Shortly afterwards, he scored all four goals in a 4–3 win against Málaga. Because of this, he started to gain international recognition, and was one of the leading goalscorers of the Spanish League, alongside his Barcelona counterpart, Samuel Eto'o.[16] That season, the striker was devoted as one of the great promises of world football in the wake of spectacular games, and particularly dazzling last-minute goals. Higuaín ended the season with 22 league goals,[17] 24 in all competitions, shining alongside longtime football stars like Diego Forlán, David Villa and Thierry Henry.

2009–10 season[edit]

The 2009–10 season saw Higuaín become Real's top goalscorer with 27 league goals, 29 in total, being at the same time the La Liga's 2nd top goalscorer, behind only Lionel Messi but surpassing Swedish international Zlatan Ibrahimović and his teammate Cristiano Ronaldo. This season included him scoring his first two goals in the Champions league and his 2nd hat-trick for the club. He also played at the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in South Africa for Argentina. He scored the only hat-trick of the tournament against South Korea in a 4–1 victory, in Argentina's second group match.[18]

2010–11 season[edit]

Gonzalo Higuaín during a match in the Champions League group stage against Milan.

In June 2010, Real Madrid extended Higuaín's contract until 2016.[19] On 23 October 2010, he scored Real Madrid's 5200th league goal, against Racing Santander in a 6–1 thrashing by Los Blancos. On 4 November of the same year, Higuaín entered the history of Real Madrid by being the scorer of the club's 700th goal in the Champions League.[20]

On the first weeks of December 2010, Higuaín was diagnosed with a herniated lumbar disc, and was suggested by Real's medical staff to have it operated.[21] On 5 January 2011, Real Madrid announced he would finally undergo surgery at the Department of Neurological Surgery of Chicago's Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine under the command of Dr. Richard G. Fessler, M.D.[22] The surgery took place on 11 January, and Higuaín was discharged from the hospital the next day following a successful operation.[23] He was expected to spend at least four months away from the field in the recovery process. Two months spent to recover from the surgery and another two to train with the team, however he was able to make an early comeback. On 23 April 2011, Higuaín scored a hat-trick against Valencia in a 3–6 away win in Estadio Mestalla, giving him 8 goals in 8 matches against Valencia. Higuaín also assisted two other goals for Karim Benzema and Kaká in that same match.

2011–12 season[edit]

Higuaín in a Champions League game against CSKA Moscow in February 2012

Higuaín opened his tally for the new league season with a goal against Getafe on 10 September.[24] On 24 September 2011 he scored his second goal of the season in a game against Rayo Vallecano which ended in a 6–2 win. On 2 October 2011 he scored his first hat-trick of the season against Espanyol in a 4–0 away win, following it 13 days later with another in a 4–1 win against Real Betis.

Higuaín scored to put Madrid up 3–1 in a 4–1 win against local rivals Atlético in the Madrid derby on 26 November. He added another goal in the last game of the Champions League group stage, a 3–0 defeat of AFC Ajax on 7 December.[25] On 31 March 2012, he scored his 100th Real Madrid goal against CA Osasuna, and added a second goal to make it Real's 100th goal for the 2011–12 La Liga season. In the league-winning season, he scored 22 goals, above his team mate Karim Benzema, and proved to be vital player for his team.[26]

2012–13 season[edit]

Higuaín attempting to dribble past Emir Spahić of Sevilla in February 2013

Higuaín opened his new season tally with one goal each in the first three matches against Valencia, Getafe and Granada. On 29 August 2012, he scored the opener in an eventual 2–1 win against Barcelona in the second leg of the Supercopa de España, which secured Real Madrid its first title of the season. Higuaín helped Real secure their first La Liga victory with a defeat of Granada, registering the club's third goal in a 3–0 win on 2 September.[27]

In Real's away match to Mallorca on 28 October 2012, Higuaín scored twice and provided two assists in a 5–0 victory.[28] On 23 February 2013, Higuaín scored his 100th La Liga goal as he scored an 88th-minute winner to secure a 2–1 defeat of Deportivo La Coruña.[29]

Napoli[edit]

Due to Higuaín's availability, clubs like Arsenal and Napoli were keen to sign him. Higuaín was at the centre of much transfer speculation, with many newspapers linking him to a move to Arsenal before Napoli's president Aurelio De Laurentiis said that Higuaín, along with Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina, had passed their medicals and that the Argentine had signed a five-year deal with the Italian club, with Higuaín joining for €40 million.[30] On 27 July, Napoli confirmed the signing of Higuaín, with the Argentine being assigned the number 9 shirt.[31]

2013–14 season[edit]

On 10 August 2013, he played his first match as a starter in a pre-season friendly against Benfica, and scored his first goal for the club in a 2–1 win. On 25 August, Higuaín made his Serie A debut in a 3–0 defeat of Bologna on the opening day of the 2013–14 season.[32] A week later, he opened his goalscoring account in a 4–2 win away at Chievo Verona.[33] He followed this up with goals in Napoli's next two fixtures: wins over Atalanta at home[34] and Milan at the San Siro.[35]

On 18 September, he scored in Napoli's opening Champions League fixture, a 2–1 victory over Borussia Dortmund at the Stadio San Paolo.[36] He went on to score in home wins over Olympique de Marseille[37] and Arsenal[38] but Napoli failed to qualify from the group stage despite winning four of their six matches.[38]

On 12 February 2014, Higuaín scored two goals in Napoli's 3–0 defeat of Roma in the semi-final of the Coppa Italia, taking the team to the final with a 5–3 aggregate victory.[39] On 13 April, he scored his first hat-trick for the club in a 4–2 win over Lazio.[40]

2014–15 season[edit]

Higuaín in action against Dnipro in May 2015

On 26 October 2014, Higuaín scored his first three league goals of the season in a 6–2 home win over Hellas Verona.[41]

In the 2014 Supercoppa Italiana against Juventus in Doha on 22 December, Higuaín equalised twice, forcing extra time and then a penalty shootout, in which he was one of the scorers in a Napoli victory.[42]

Higuaín scored the only goal of an away win at Lazio on 18 January 2015, moving Napoli into third at their expense.[43] On 4 February he scored the only goal of the game in added time as Napoli defeated Inter Milan in the quarter-finals of the Coppa Italia; it was his 18th of the season.[44] He scored a hat-trick, including a penalty, on 12 March as Napoli came from behind to defeat Dynamo Moscow 3–1 in the first leg of the last 16 of the Europa League.[45]

In the final game of the league season – and also the last under manager Rafael Benítez – Higuaín scored twice, but also missed a penalty, as Napoli lost 4–2 to Lazio, who took the last Champions League place at their expense.[46]

2015–16 season[edit]

On 30 August 2015, Higuaín got his first goals of the season, a first-half brace to put Napoli ahead in an eventual 2–2 draw with Sampdoria,[47] and followed it three weeks later with a further two goals in a 5–0 win against Lazio.[48] On 8 November, he recorded the 200th goal of his club career, the game's only in a victory over Udinese for his ninth of the league season and seventh consecutive home game with a goal.[49] Three weeks later, he scored both goals – including one after 64 seconds – in a 2–1 win over Inter Milan which put Napoli in first place in the league for the first time in 25 years.[50][51] He scored another brace on 6 December, two late goals in 3–2 loss at Bologna.[52]

Higuaín scored twice in Napoli's 3–1 win over Sassuolo on 16 January 2016 to extend the team's lead to four points; his second goal of the game was his 20th of the campaign.[53]

International career[edit]

Higuaín is one of only three foreign-born players to have played for Argentina in a FIFA World Cup, along with Pedro Arico Suárez[54] and Constantino Urbieta Sosa.[55] He initially rejected calls from both the Argentine and French national teams,[56][57] claiming at the time he was undecided for which country he would prefer to play, before choosing Argentina.[58] Higuaín was called up by the Argentina Olympic squad for a friendly match against Guatemala in February 2008,[59] and scored two goals in his debut as Argentina won 5–0, though the match was not officially recognized by FIFA as an "A" international match.

2010 FIFA World Cup[edit]

During the game between Argentina and South Korea at FIFA World Cup 2010, 17 June 2010, Soccer City, Johannesburg. Higuaín celebrates his hat-trick with teammates.

Higuaín was selected for Argentina by coach Diego Maradona for the last 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification games against Peru and Uruguay. He scored his first goal on his full debut, a 49th-minute strike during a 2–1 win over Peru on 10 October 2009. He netted his second goal for Argentina in the 1–0 win over Germany at the Allianz Arena in Munich on 3 March 2010, right on the stroke of half-time, pouncing on a mistake made by German goalkeeper René Adler, in which Higuaín tapped into an open net from about 25 yards out.[60] Following Argentina's qualification, Higuaín was included in the squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He scored a hat-trick in Argentina's 4–1 win over South Korea in their second group match,[61] becoming the third Argentinian to score a hat-trick in the World Cup finals, after Guillermo Stábile in 1930 and Gabriel Batistuta in 1994 and 1998,[62] and the first player to score a hat-trick in the tournament since 2002. His goal in the 3–1 win over Mexico in the second round took him to a total of four, and he remained one of the top scorers for Argentina in the competition.

2011 Copa América[edit]

Shortly after Argentina's disappointing World Cup campaign, on 7 September 2010, Higuaín scored in a friendly match against newly crowned world champions Spain, making it 2–0 in an eventual 4–1 win at El Monumental.[63]

Higuaín was a member of Sergio Batista's Argentine squad for the 2011 Copa América on home soil, making one substitute appearance and one start in the group as Carlos Tevez was preferred at centre forward; Argentina advanced in second place behind Colombia. He started in the quarter-final against Uruguay in the quarter-finals in Santa Fe, and equalised in the 17th minute by heading Lionel Messi's cross past goalkeeper Fernando Muslera; he later had another goal disallowed for offside. Higuaín scored in the penalty shoot-out after his shot had hit both posts, but Argentina lost the shoot-out 4–5.[64]

2011–2014[edit]

On 8 October 2011, Higuaín scored a hat-trick and assisted one goal in a 4–1 win against Chile. On 2 June 2012, Higuaín scored the second goal in their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match and assisted one goal in Argentina's 4–0 victory over Ecuador.

Higuaín assisted the first goal for Lionel Messi in a friendly against Brazil on 9 June 2012, with Argentina eventually winning 4–3. Higuaín then assisted a second goal for Messi 6 days later, with a 3–1 win against Germany.

Higuaín challenging Germany's Mats Hummels and Manuel Neuer in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final

On 7 September 2012, Higuaín scored the second goal in their 2014 FIFA World Cup South American qualifier match and assisted one goal in Argentina's 3–1 victory over Paraguay. Then on 11 September, Higuaín scored the equalizer for the Argentine team against Peru, on a match that ended 1–1 in Lima.

On 22 March 2013, Higuaín scored twice as Argentina beat Venezuela 3–0[65] to make him top scorer in the South American section of World Cup qualifying with 9 goals. He ended as the joint third-top scorer in CONMEBOL, alongside Radamel Falcao and behind Messi and Luis Suárez.[66]

2014 FIFA World Cup[edit]

Higuaín was named in Argentina's 23-man squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.[67] After appearing as a half-time substitute in Argentina's 2–1 defeat of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Estádio do Maracanã, Higuaín exchanged passes with Messi to assist his captain for the winning goal.[68] He was named in the starting line-up for the team's second match against Iran in Belo Horizonte.[69] On 5 July, Higuaín scored the only goal of the match in the 1–0 quarter-final victory over Belgium.[70] In the final against Germany, Higuaín missed an unobstructed one-on-one chance against Germany goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, after being gifted an errant, headed back-pass from Toni Kroos, and had a goal disallowed for offside,[71] as Germany eventually won the match 1–0.[72]

2015 Copa América[edit]

With Sergio Agüero preferred as the lone centre-forward in a three-man Argentine attack, Higuaín made his first start of the 2015 Copa América in the final group match, against Jamaica in Viña del Mar. Winning his fiftieth cap, he scored the only goal of the game in the 11th minute when set up by Ángel Di María, sending Argentina through as group winners.[73] On 30 June, he scored the final goal of Argentina's 6–1 win over Paraguay in the semi-finals, two minutes after coming on in place of Agüero.[74] On 4 July, Higuaín was one of two Argentina players to fail to convert their kicks in a penalty shootout loss to Chile in the 2015 Copa América Final, blasting his attempt over the crossbar.[75]

Style of play[edit]

A hardworking striker and a prolific goalscorer, Higuaín is regarded as one of the top strikers of his generation,[76][77] and is known in particular for his great striking ability,[1] as well as his technical skill, and ability to hold up the ball and lay it off to other players; he is also known for his pace in the final third of the pitch, which makes him an offensive threat during counter-attacks.[2] His playing style has earned him comparisons with compatriots Hernan Crespo and Gabriel Batistuta.[78]

Personal life[edit]

Higuaín is a Catholic.[79]

Endorsements[edit]

Higuaín, along with global cover star Lionel Messi, features on the Italian cover of EA Sports' multi-platform video game FIFA 15.[80]

Career statistics[edit]

Club[edit]

As of match played 7 February 2016[81]
Club Season League Cup Continental Other1 Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
River Plate 2004–05 4 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
2005–06 14 4 0 0 4 2 18 7
2006–07 17 8 0 0 2 0 0 0 19 8
Total 35 13 0 0 6 2 0 0 41 15
Real Madrid 2006–07 19 2 2 0 2 0 23 2
2007–08 25 8 4 1 5 0 34 9
2008–09 34 22 2 1 7 0 1 1 44 24
2009–10 32 27 1 0 7 2 40 29
2010–11 17 10 2 1 6 2 25 13
2011–12 35 22 5 1 12 3 2 0 54 26
2012–13 28 16 5 0 9 1 2 1 44 18
Total 190 107 21 4 48 8 5 2 264 121
Napoli 2013–14 32 17 5 2 9 5 46 24
2014–15 37 18 4 1 16 8 1 2 58 29
2015–16 24 24 1 0 3 2 28 26
Total 93 59 10 3 28 15 1 2 132 79
Career Total 318 179 31 7 82 25 6 4 437 215

1 Includes Supercopa de España and Supercoppa Italiana.

International[edit]

National team Season Apps Goals
Argentina
2009 3 1
2010 10 6
2011 9 5
2012 8 4
2013 5 4
2014 11 3
2015 7 2
Total 52 25

Honours[edit]

Club[edit]

Real Madrid[82]
Napoli[82]

Country[edit]

Argentina[82]

Individual[edit]

References[edit]

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