The past 12 months for Gonzalo Higuain have been a real rollercoaster ride.
It all started back in August 2018, when the Argentine moved to arch rivals AC Milan.
Higuain was evidently disappointed that Italian champions Juventus wanted nothing to do with him anymore, having already signed football superstar Ronaldo. At the time, even Juve fans gave up on Higuain, knowing that he and his extra pounds would not be needed.
According to the official Juventus statement, AC Milan would have to pay €18 million for the initial loan and they would also have the option to purchase Higuain outright for €36 million, payable in two installments.
However, at the AC Milan presentation, came a different Higuain, a slightly fitter Higuain. In comparison, the Rossoneri faithful thought they had hit the jackpot by luring an in-form Gonzalo Higuain.
A fact worth mentioning is that he was considered probably the most popular striker’s name to arrive in the club after Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The expectations were high, as the Rossoneri fans had been tired of not having a “leader” in their squad. They certainly saw one in Higuain, and honestly how can anybody not?
The season had an overall great start for the Argentine international. By this time last year, in addition to the two strikes in Europa League, he had already netted 5 times and bagged one assist in 9 Serie A games as well. At the time, everyone was certain Higuain would become an AC Milan player at the end of the season. It was certain, he was the missing puzzle to that Milanese side. But… there’s always a “but”.
So, the Juventus match came on 11 October 2018. The first derby of Higuain against his former club in Red and Black. He had them faced in few occasions while wearing the Napoli jersey, but that was all before. This time was different. We are talking about revenge time. Revenge for the time was he was left off to make space for Ronaldo. He certainly had to show everyone that he still had in him, especially to the Bianconeri.
What happened you ask? Let’s see: It was kick off time, as both teams had few chances, but Juventus were the first one to take the lead. Then Higuain wins a penalty in 40′, pacing his sprint to catch Mehdi Benacia to the middle and sending the ball with his first contact against the defender’s leg. Why should he not be the one who reaps the prize, the AC Milan top scorer at the time? Despite his mediocre penalty history, he always managed to find the net in big matches. This time though, that was not the case. Higuain’s penalty was not on target.
Then few minutes later when Higuain got a yellow card for a contact with Medhi Benatia, he screamed in the face of the official, lost his temper, and was sent off. The reaction turned from anger to tears. It must have been a matter of great importance to see his former teammates move closer to console him. So, it is like as that – revenge was not served.
It didn’t take much for the 30-year-old forward at the time to issue public apologies to the official Mazzoleni and his teammates, coach and supporters. However, little did he know this would be the breaking point of his AC Milan career. It all went downfall from here. He served a two match suspension against Lazio and Parma, but then when he returned against Torino, there was something strange in the air. He was not able to find the net against the less popular Turin side, but if only that was the problem. It was as if Higuain was not the same anymore. The player that many fans witnessed from August onward, was no longer present. What was present was an extra man on the pitch, someone not interested in contributing to the play, and when things wouldn’t go as planned, he would inevitably be seen as agitated.
Fans started becoming impatient and Higuain more agitated. Moreover, not being able to score in the next 450 minutes was not of help at all as well. Came the final game of the year and Higuain finally managed to find the back of the net in a 2-1 win against Spal. However, this is where it was all over for him at AC Milan.
Many rumors emerged of a potential move to Chelsea, where he would meet his former boss Maurizio Sarri. And in spite of Higuain personally ruling out these links, at the beginning of 2019, he could be seen posing with the Blues’ jersey. It looked like the ideal choice for all parties involved: AC Milan would get rid of a player who does not deliver anymore, Chelsea would get the striker they desperately needed and Higuain would team up with the person who made him one of the best strikers in Europe during their Napoli spell.
Naturally, it would have been utopia, since things rarely out the way everyone wants them to. By the start of his England career, he had a brace in two Premier League games. However, as the season went by, that brace turned out to be the most exciting moment of all. In the next 6 matches, he scored only once – against Fulham. Big games came, but Higuain was nowhere to be seen on the pitch. Instead, he was constantly complaining, criticizing and bemoaning his teammates. A frightening fact is that he ended the season with 6 AC Milan goals and 5 goals for Chelsea.
Despite being clear for most of 2018 that not even Chelsea would buy him outright from Juventus, it finally became clear at the end of the season. He went out with a bang though, by adding one Europa League trophy to his name after Chelsea beat Arsenal in the final. Now, there was no other choice but to return to where he came from in the first place. It was widely known that he was not needed at Juventus, that is why he was shipped off in the first place. The problem is, there weren’t any suitors interested in his signature after such a terrible and disappointing season, so against all odds, Higuain stayed in Turin to meet his former Napoli and Chelsea boss Mauruzio Sarri once again.
This time, he has a different motive – redemption. Despite having limited time due to the Ronaldo-Dybala duo, he managed to score a tremendous strike against another former side, Napoli. Boy, what an eventful match that was. Then came another derby, the Derby della Italia against Inter Milan. Knowing his rich goalscoring history against the Nerazzurri, he did not fail to disappoint, as he scored the late winning goal.
Now, fast forward to 10 October 2019, the day of a new Juventus-AC Milan clash at Allianz Stadium in Turin, Higuain is back in the Juventus shirt and AC Milan are still struggling. It is like nothing happened at all and those 12 months never existed.
But per Huguain and per the AC Milan fans, that is not the case. Both sides will be looking for revenge as a result of the disappointment in the move that saw him leave for the Milan-based side. It sure was an eventful year for Gonzalo Higuain, who will certainly get some playing time off of the bench on Sunday. Is anyone entitled to hold grudges in this case? We will leave that to your point of view.