Higuain: Sarri has made me indispensable for Napoli

The striker has identified the coach as the reason for his transformation this season, and is hoping to fire his club to success this term

Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain has credited coach Maurizio Sarri for making him “indispensable” amidst his recent explosion in form.

Higuain was made a scapegoat for his club failing to qualify to the Champions League on the final day of last season when they were pipped by Lazio.

His penalty miss in the final of the Copa America next caused Argentina to be beaten by Chile, with Gerardo Martino opting to leave him out of Argentina’s squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Paraguay.

Despite his international woes, the 27-year-old has turned around his club fortunes by scoring six goals in all competitions this term under Sarri, and has credited the trainer for his new-found form.

“With Sarri, our relationship is very good. He has helped me so much early on and has made me feel like a player who is indispensable,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“At times for a player, dialogue can be the most important thing.

“I feel like I’m in good mental and physical condition at the moment. I hope that I can improve even more, the same way that I hope Napoli will continue to get better too.”

Higuain’s prolific streak continued on Thursday in a 2-0 win over Legia Warsaw in the Europa League, as he cut in from the left and curled home a wonderful strike to seal the points.

Ahead of Sunday’s trip to face Milan, Higuain added: “I believe that the goal I scored against Legia is among the finest I have ever managed in my career.

“I’m pleased with myself because that’s exactly where I wanted to put the ball, right in the top corner.

“For us, we still have to prove we are a great team and can improve many things. The game against Milan could give us important indications about where we are.”

Napoli deny Higuain made comments about Ronaldo

Quotes attributed to the Argentina international in a magazine interview saw him brand his former team-mate “over-rated” but the Serie A club deny he said such things

Napoli have released a statement denying striker Gonzalo Higuain made controversial comments about former Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.

Quotes emerged on Sunday of Higuain reportedly branding three-time Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo “over-rated” and egotistical in an apparent interview with Spanish magazine Don Balon.

However, Napoli have now insisted that the Argentina international never made such comments about the Portugal international.

“Napoli and Higuain categorically deny ever he has been granted an interview with ‘Don Balon’,” the statement read.

“Therefore the sentences attributed to Higuain are considered false and without any foundation.”

Higuain, who played alongside Ronaldo at the Santiago Bernabeu before moving to Napoli in 2013, made headlines when he was quoted as saying: “He [Ronaldo] has a lot of ego.

“If you don’t say he’s the best, he’s not your friend. Cristiano thinks he’s the best but he’s over-rated.

“I’ve shared a dressing room with Messi and one is nothing like the other.”

Higuain scored in Napoli’s 2-1 victory over struggling Serie A champions Juventus on Saturday.

Allegri: Juventus are not out of Serie A title race

Last season’s Scudetto winners’ disastrous form continued as they were beaten for the third time in the league, but the ex-Milan boss is refusing to panic over their struggles

Massimiliano Allegri is adamant that Juventus can retain the Serie A title despite seeing their worst league start continue with a 2-1 loss at Napoli on Saturday. 

Goals from Lorenzo Insigne and the impressive Gonzalo Higuain was enough for Napoli to condemn Juve to their third defeat of the campaign at Stadio San Paolo.

However, under-fire coach Allegri insists that his side, who have dominated domestically in recent seasons, will be competing in the upper echelons of the table soon enough, stating that injuries to key players have left Juve void of experience.

“It’s a difficult time but the championship is long, now we must play the game like champions,” Allegri told Sky Italia.

“Juve will come back to fight for the top spot, although it will be tough. We have to get out of the difficulty, perhaps the return of the injured players will help me to play some players of experience.

“With the recovery of injured players I will have more choices. [Against Napoli] I had just Hernanes and [Mario] Lemina in central areas.

“The team has not had a bad game, Napoli are organised and have great quality and managed to hurt us. 

“They did very well on the counter-attack.”

Napoli v Juventus Preview: Allegri demands improvement

After the Old Lady were held by Frosinone, the club’s coach wants to overcome a slow start to the season against Sarri’s side

Massimiliano Allegri has revealed his disappointment at Juventus’ lacklusture start to the season and wants to see an immediate improvement against Napoli on Saturday.

The Serie A champions were held to a 1-1 draw by rock-bottom Frosinone last time out, leaving them 10 points behind early leaders Inter following Leonardo Blanchard’s last-gasp leveller.

It is the club’s worst ever start to a top-flight season, with their woes alleviated only slightly by the Champions League victory over Manchester City.

“I’m angry because we must improve quickly,” said Allegri, who is likely to be without Stephan Lichtsteiner after the Switzerland defender went off at half-time against Frosinone with breathing difficulties.

“We’re shipping goals from the first opportunity that falls the way of our opponents. We keep trying to force the play in instances when we should be slowing things down.

“We’ve got a team full of youngsters who need to develop but we need to work to improve the team and bring it up to a certain level.”

Napoli have endured a similarly mixed start, having taken just one point more than Allegri’s men after been held by lowly Carpi last time out, after exploding into a 5-0 victory over Lazio.

Gonzalo Higuain has provided some highs for Maurizio Sarri’s side his term, netting four times in Serie A.

But despite scoring two goals in Napoli’s 5-0 thrashing of Lazio last weekend, Higuain has been left out of Argentina’s squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Paraguay, with Juve’s uncapped Paulo Dybala, who has netted three times in 2015-16, earning a call-up.

Napoli drew a blank against Carpi with wayward finishing ensuring their dominance of the ball counted for little, but Sarri was not concerned by his side’s display.

“We failed to score but I am happy with the performance,” he told Napoli’s official website. “Now we look ahead to Juve at the San Paolo, so we train and prepare for this race to the best of our ability.”

Juve and Napoli met three times last season, the former completing a league double but losing in the Super Cup on penalties.

Higuain overlooked by Argentina

Gerardo Martino has left the striker out of his 28-strong squad but there is a place in the panel for Juventus starlet Paulo Dybala

Napoli forward Gonzalo Huguain was a notable absentee from Argentina’s squad for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Paraguay.

The 27-year-old missed his country’s friendlies against Bolovia and Mexico earlier this month due to a stomach bug but has since been playing regularly for his club.

Indeed, the striker scored two goals in Monday’s 5-0 thrashing of Serie A rivals Lazio, taking his tally to four goals from as many appearances so far this season.

Angel Di Maria and Javier Pastore were another two big-name players to not feature in the friendlies in the United States but both have been called up by Gerardo Martino for the Russia 2018 qualifiers.

There is also a place in the 28-strong panel for the uncapped Paulo Dybala, who has bagged two goals since joining Juventus from Palermo for €32 million during the summer.

Martino’s men will face Ecuador at home on October 8 before the relatively short-trip to Paraguay for their October 13 clash.

Argentina squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Nahuel Guzman (Club Tigres), Agustin Marchesin (Santos Laguna), Sergio Romero (Manchester United).

Defenders: Milton Casco (River Plate), Martin Demichelis (Manchester City), Ramires Funi Mori (Everton), Ezequiel Garay (Zenit), Emmanuel Mas (San Lorenzo), Nicolas Otamendi (Manchester City), Marcos Rojo (Manchester United), Facundo Roncaglia (Fiorentina), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City).

Midfielders: Ever Banega (Sevilla), Lucas Biglia (Lazio), Matias Kranevitter (River Plate), Javier Mascherano (Barcelona), Javier Pastore (PSG), Roberto Pereyra (Juventus), Enzo Perez (Valencia).

Forwards: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Angel Correa (Atletico Madrid), Angel Di Maria (PSG), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Nicolas Gaitan (Benfica), Ezequiel Lavezzi (PSG), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Carlos Tevez (Boca Juniors).