The Argentine has enjoyed a stunning run of form this year, scoring decisive goals against most of the teams that have come before Napoli.
Napoli are currently sitting alone at the top of the Serie A table for the first time after almost 25 years. They won the title that year thanks to 16 goals from Diego Maradona. All signs point to Higuain making a similar impact this season as the former Real Madrid man has looked irresistible in front of goal leading Napoli’s Scudetto challenge. The biggest match in Serie A so far was decided by Higuain on Monday night as has been the case for the majority of the games this season.
Higuain scored his first league goal against Juventus since his move from Spain this year as Napoli claimed a significant win over the defending champions. Another top of the table clash against Fiorentina was decided by El Pipita as he pounced on a mistake of Josip IliA?i to give all three points to Maurizio Sarri’s men. Higuain might not have scored in Napoli’s 4-0 away win at the San Siro but he was responsible for atleast two of the goals.
Higuain no more just a goal-poacher
This has been another impressive aspect of his game this season as it is not just in front of goal that Higuain has made the difference. He has played numerous key passes to his team-mates and his link-up play with Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon has been brilliant. His work ethic, attacking the spaces behind the defence and pressing in the final third has helped Napoli win the ball back in dangerous areas leading to goalscoring chances.
He needed just 64 seconds to open the scoring against the impregnable Inter defence quickly reacting to a hesitation at the back to smash the ball in the roof of Samir Handanovic’s net. And right at the hour mark Higuain latched on to Raul Albiol’s header showing great strength and composure to grab his second goal. It had to be Higuain as his form has been simply extraordinary. He equalled Maradona’s record of scoring in eight consecutive home games in Serie A.
The 27-year-old had a season to forget last time even though he managed to score 18 goals. His missed penalty on the final day against Lazio cost Napoli the third spot in Serie A, while he wasted another spot-kick in Argentina’s Copa America final defeat to hosts Chile. Questions were raised about his ability to perform under pressure. When Maurizio Sarri was appointed as the head coach of Napoli, similar concerns were raised that he might not have the authority to manage big names like Higuain but the Napoli man has played a huge role in the Argentinea s resurgence.
Sarri challenged Higuain to fulfil his potential asking him to be more energetic on the field. Napoli began the season slowly with a loss and two draws in the opening three games but kick-started their campaign with a 5-0 mauling of Lazio with Higuain scoring a hattrick. They have not looked back since with the city of Naples genuinely dreaming of a historic title.
Higuain had 53 goals across all competitions in the last two seasons but he has looked the sharpest in the last three months. The Argentine has credited a healthier diet for his fitness this term where he has already lost 4kgs over the summer. Higuain has been working with Italian nutritionist Giuliano Poser who previously helped his Albiceleste teammates, Manchester Citya s Sergio Aguero and Barcelonaa s Lionel Messi. His sharpness and agility on the pitch has been there for all to see.
The Maradonna connect
The Argentine arrived in Naples two years ago, and in his third season is looking to inspire Napoli to the Scudetto just as Maradona did in his third year at the club. Higuain has become a real leader in this team making the Neapolitans dream after years of anguish and heartbreak. For Maurizio Sarri, he is ‘the best in the world.’
The 27-year-old is undoubtedly in the form of his career. Still Sarri is demanding more ruthlessness and application from his talisman. He has got Napoli daring to dream the seemingly impossible. He wished to follow the footsteps of Maradona by winning the World Cup in one year and then the Scudetto like in 1986 and 87. Right now he is the most decisive player in Italy just like Zlatan Ibrahimovic of 2010-11, Andrea Pirlo in 2011-12 and Carlos Tevez last year.
If Higuain manages to win the improbable title with Napoli atleast people would stop labelling him a bottler and appreciate his qualities as an outstanding striker of this generation. If he manages to end a 25-year wait for the title he wona t just be a footballer in Naples.
Nobody in this planet is likely to surpass the legacy of Maradona who walked away from the spotlights of Barcelona to a marginalised region of Southern Italy giving them an identity amidst all the mocking and insults by the wealthy northern neighbours.
He placed Napoli on the football map, bringing glory for the first time to a backwater club. For all these reasons, El Diego will always remain a God for Partenopei. Higuain is no Maradona but if he can keep up his form in front of goal then there is no reason why Napoli can’t upset the applecart and win the Scudetto.