Higuaín with Napoli in 2015
|Full name||Gonzalo Gerardo Higuain|
|Date of birth||10 December 1987|
|Place of birth||Brest, France|
|Height||1.84 m (6 ft 1⁄2 in)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 24 September 2016.
Nicknamed El Pipita or Pipa, as was his father, Jorge, who was also a footballer, Gonzalo Higuaín was born in France, attaining Argentine citizenship in 2007, and now holds dual nationality. 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. In the 2015–16 season, he scored 36 league goals, winning the Capocannoniere title and equalling Gino Rossetti's 87-year-old record for goals in an Italian top-flight season. As a result of his goal scoring exploits in Naples, Italian champions Juventus signed him for €90 million in 2016, making him the most expensive South American footballer of all time; his transfer fee was the highest ever paid by an Italian team and also the highest of a player transferring within any domestic league.
Higuaín has been a full international for Argentina since 2009; he has represented the country at two FIFA World Cups and three Copa América tournaments, helping them to second-place finishes at the 2014 World Cup, the 2015 Copa América and the Copa América Centenario in 2016.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Club career
- 3 International career
- 4 Style of play
- 5 Endorsements
- 6 Career statistics
- 7 Honours
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Higuaín was born on 10 December 1987 in Brest, France, the son of the Argentine footballer Jorge Higuaín, who was then playing for Stade Brestois 29. He left France at the age of ten months and does not speak French, but retains French citizenship in addition to his Argentine nationality, which he successfully applied for in January 2007. Higuaín has two elder brothers, Nicolas and Federico, the latter of whom plays for Major League Soccer (MLS) club Columbus Crew as a deep-lying forward, and one younger brother, Lautaro.
Higuaín started playing in the youth teams and made his debut with River Plate in a 2–1 defeat against Gimnasia y Esgrima (LP) on 29 May 2005. On 12 February 2006, he scored his first league goal in a 3–1 victory over Banfield. Higuaín ended the 2005–06 season with 5 goals in 12 appearances.
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". By the end of that season, he scored 10 goals in 17 league matches.
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 three 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 Vicente Calderón Stadium. During his first season at the Bernabéu, however, Higuaín raised some doubts over his performance due to overall his lack of goals.
During the 2007–08 season, Higuaín played inconsistently, although 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 Liga champions for the second consecutive year. Four days later, he scored the third goal of a 4–1 thrashing of Barcelona in El Clásico. The goal was scored just 57 seconds after he came off the bench.
In the 2008–09 season, Higuaín was offered the chance to be a starter due to a serious injury suffered by Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy. In August 2008, Higuaín scored the winner in Madrid's victory over Valencia in the Supercopa de España. Shortly afterwards, he scored all four goals in a 4–3 win against Málaga. Because of this, he started to gain international recognition and became one of the leading goalscorers of La Liga, alongside his Barcelona counterpart Samuel Eto'o. On 21 April 2009, Higuaín 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 keep close to Pep Guardiola's Barcelona in the league table. Throughout the season, Higuaín was regarded as one of the most promising talents in world football in the wake of spectacular games and last-minute goals. He ended the season with 22 league goals and 24 in all competitions, around as many as established football stars including Diego Forlán, David Villa and Thierry Henry.
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 second-top goalscorer, behind only Lionel Messi and surpassing Swedish international Zlatan Ibrahimović, as well as his Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo. This season included him scoring his first two goals in the UEFA Champions League and his second hat-trick for the club.
In June 2010, Real Madrid extended Higuaín's contract until 2016. On 23 October 2010, he scored Real Madrid's 5,200th league goal, coming against Racing de Santander in a 6–1 thrashing by Los Blancos. On 4 November of the same year, Higuaín scored the club's 700th goal in the Champions League.
During the first weeks of December 2010, Higuaín was diagnosed with a herniated lumbar disc, and Real's medical staff suggested that he should have it operated. 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. The surgery took place on 11 January, and Higuaín was discharged from the hospital the next day following a successful operation. 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, although he was able to make an early comeback. On 23 April 2011, Higuaín scored a hat-trick against Valencia in a 6–3 away win at the Mestalla Stadium, giving him eight goals in eight matches against Valencia. Higuaín also assisted two other goals for Karim Benzema and Kaká in that same match.
On 2 October, Higuaín 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 Betis.
Higuaín scored to put Madrid up 3–1 in a 4–1 win against local rivals Atlético Madrid in the Madrid derby on 26 November. On 31 March 2012, he scored his 100th Real Madrid goal in a match against Osasuna, also adding 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, more than his teammate Karim Benzema, and proved to be a vital player for his team.
On 29 August 2012, Higuaín scored the opener in an eventual 2–1 win against Barcelona in the second leg of the 2012 Supercopa de España, which secured Real Madrid its first title of the season.
In Real's away match to Mallorca on 28 October 2012, Higuaín scored twice and provided two assists in a 5–0 victory. On 23 February 2013, he scored his 100th La Liga goal as he scored an 88th-minute winner to secure a 2–1 defeat of Deportivo de La Coruña.
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. On 27 July, Napoli confirmed the signing of Higuaín, with the Argentine being assigned the number 9 shirt.
On 10 August 2013, Higuaín played his first match as a starter in a pre-season friendly against Benfica, scoring his first goal for the club in a 2–1 win. On 25 August, he made his Serie A debut in a 3–0 defeat of Bologna on the opening day of the 2013–14 season. A week later, he opened his goalscoring account in a 4–2 win away at Chievo. He followed this up with goals in Napoli's next two fixtures: wins over Atalanta at home and Milan at the San Siro.
On 18 September, Higuaín scored in Napoli's opening Champions League fixture, a 2–1 victory over Borussia Dortmund at the Stadio San Paolo. He went on to score in home wins over Marseille and Arsenal, but Napoli failed to qualify from the group stage despite winning four of their six matches.
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. On 13 April, he scored his first hat-trick for the club in a 4–2 win over Lazio.
On 26 October 2014, Higuaín scored his first three league goals of the season in a 6–2 home win over Hellas Verona. In the 2014 Supercoppa Italiana against Juventus in Doha, Qatar, 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.
In the final game of the league season – and also the last under Napoli 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.
On 8 November, Higuaín 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. Three weeks later, he scored both goals – including one after 64 seconds – in a 2–1 win over Inter which put Napoli in first place in the league for the first time in 25 years.
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. He scored his 30th goal of the Serie A season in a 3–1 away defeat to Udinese on 3 April, although he was sent off later during the match. In the following days, the Serie A issued a four-match ban against Higuaín; a one-game ban for his two yellow cards, one for "protesting against the match officials", one for "misconduct against an opponent" and one for appearing to push referee Massimiliano Irrati, as well as a €20,000 fine. On 15 April, following an appeal on his ban, it was reduced to three matches.
On 14 May, Higuaín scored a hat-trick in a 4–0 home win over Frosinone in the final match of the season to win the Capocannoniere with 36 total goals, equaling Gino Rossetti's record set in 1928–29. No other player in the league surpassed 20 goals for the season, with the league's second-topscorer being Paulo Dybala with 19.
After a month of transfer speculation, on 26 July 2016, Higuaín transferred to rivals Juventus for a fee of €90 million paid in two installments, becoming one of the highest football transfers of all-time and highest ever transfer for an Italian club. Three days after his move, Higuaín stated that his reason for moving to Juventus was because of his relationship with Napoli's chairman Aurelio De Laurentiis. On 20 August, Higuaín scored the winning goal on his Juventus debut in their opening match against Fiorentina of a 2–1 home win. On 10 September, he scored a brace in a 3–1 home win over Sassuolo.
Higuaín is one of only three foreign-born players to have played for Argentina in a FIFA World Cup, along with Pedro Arico Suárez and Constantino Urbieta Sosa. He initially rejected calls from both the Argentina and France national teams, claiming at the time he was undecided for which country he would prefer to play, before ultimately choosing Argentina. Higuaín was called up by the Argentina Olympic squad for a friendly match against Guatemala in February 2008, and scored two goals on 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
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. 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, 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, 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, sending him clear as the second-top goalscorer in the competition.
2011 Copa América
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 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.
On 8 October 2011, Higuaín scored a hat-trick and assisted one goal in a 4–1 win against Chile. On 2 June 2012, he scored the second goal in their 2014 World Cup qualifying match and assisted one goal in Argentina's 4–0 victory over Ecuador.
On 7 September 2012, Higuaín scored the second goal in their 2014 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 Argentina in a 1–1 draw with Peru in Lima.
On 22 March 2013, Higuaín scored twice as Argentina beat Venezuela 3–0 to make him top scorer in the South American section of World Cup qualifying with nine goals. He ended as the joint third-top scorer in CONMEBOL, alongside Radamel Falcao and behind Messi and Luis Suárez.
2014 World Cup
Higuaín was named in Argentina's 23-man squad for the 2014 World Cup. 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. He was named in the starting line-up for the team's second match against Iran in Belo Horizonte. On 5 July, he scored the only goal of the match in the 1–0 quarter-final victory over Belgium. 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, as Germany eventually won the match 1–0 in extra time.
2015 Copa América
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 50th 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. 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. 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.
Copa América Centenario
At the Copa América Centenario in 2016, Higuaín was named to Gerardo Martino's 23-man Argentina squad, and was selected as his team's starting centre forward. On 18 June, he scored twice in the team's 4–1 quarter-final defeat of Venezuela. Three days later, he once again scored two goals as Argentina defeated the hosts United States 4–0 in the semi-final. He played in the final against Chile eight days later, a repeat of the previous year's final, as the Albiceleste once again lost in a penalty shootout following a 0–0 draw after extra time.
Style of play
A hardworking striker and a prolific goalscorer, Higuaín is regarded as one of the top strikers of his generation, and is known in particular for his great striking ability, 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. His playing style has earned him comparisons with compatriots Hernán Crespo and Gabriel Batistuta.
- As of match played 27 September 2016
- As of match played 21 June 2016. Argentina score listed first, score column indicates score after each Higuaín goal.
- Real Madrid CF
- La Liga (3): 2006–07, 2007–08, 2011–12
- Copa del Rey (1): 2010–11
- Supercopa de España (2): 2008, 2012
- SSC Napoli
- Serie A Team of the Year: 2013–14
- Serie A Top-scorer: 2015–16 (36 goals)
- UEFA Europa League Squad of the season: 2013–14, 2014–15
- Forward of the "Ideal Team of America": 2006
- FIFA World Cup 2010 Man of the Match: vs. South Korea
- FIFA World Cup 2014 Man of the Match: vs. Belgium
- Most goals in a single Serie A season: 36 goals in 2015–16
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- Constantino Urbieta Sosa – FIFA competition record
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