Why Gonzalo Higuaín has never felt loved at Real Madrid

A brief summary of an article by Sid Lowe on Higuan. 

(Guardian)

(Guardian)

It was April 2008 and things were not going well for Gonzalo Higuaín. He was having a terrible game at the Santiago Bernabéu, missing chance after chance and seemingly getting more apprehensive with each opportunity. But then another cross came in and this time he dived in to score. Up in the east stand of the Bernabéu, Real Madrid’s stadium announcer prepared to tell the fans all about it.

“Higuaín scores,” he shouted gleefully, leaving a pause “… at long last!”

At the end of last season, it was hard to imagine those words not going round Higuaín’s head when he admitted that he wanted to leave Madrid,possibly in a £23m move to Arsenal. “No one has gifted me anything. I have had to fight for everything,” he said. “I want to go somewhere where they really want me.”

But he was still young: he had arrived at 20, crossing the Atlantic from Argentina having only played 31 games. And when he did get goals they were important ones. Then, he took off: in 2008-09, he scored 22 in 34 and in 2009-2010, 27 in 32, more than the star signing, Cristiano Ronaldo.

That should have been reason to celebrate, but it felt almost like he had done something wrong. He was running at just over a goal every 100 minutes but still there were criticisms. Missed chances were pounced on; when he hit the post against Lyon in the Champions League in 2010, he was blamed for Madrid’s exit.

Similar accusations were rarely aimed at other players and it was hard to avoid the conclusion that there was something political in it. Higuaín had been signed by Ramón Calderón, not the new president Florentino Pérez, and his inclusion barred the way to Karim Benzema, the apple of Pérez’s eye.

The Frenchman usually played the biggest games and the doubts from some quarters about the Argentinian never fully went away.

The fact he scored 20 goals in 30 games at international level made little impact. Higuaín’s critics pointed at his Champions League record: one in nine, three in 12, two in six, over the past three seasons. They pointed at the chances not taken again when Madrid were knocked out by Borussia Dortmund this season, in part because they could, in part through inertia, in part because they were waiting for him. Little was said about chances which Mesut Ozil and Ronaldo failed to take.

So often it is his goal that provides the breakthrough, too: the opener or the winner. His contribution is consistent, regular, not inflated by gluts.

Higuaín has had his defenders too and the criticism never sank him; he has proved to be tough and remarkably resistant. But in the end he tired of swimming against the tide.

Read the entire article: Why Arsenal target Gonzalo Higuaín has never felt loved at Real Madrid

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