Aubameyang leads way, but Ronaldo and Messi already struggling in race for European Golden Shoe

The Gabon international is currently the top striker in Europe but faces competition for the prize from Robert Lewandowski, Alex Teixeira and Jamie Vardy

Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang leads the race for the Golden Shoe after scoring yet again in his side’s 3-1 Bundesliga defeat at Hamburg.

Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Alex Teixeira is just behind the 26-year-old in the rankings with Robert Lewandowski third, despite failing to find the net against Schalke at the weekend.

Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy, who scored for the 10th consecutive game to equal Ruud van Nistelrooy’s Premier League record is also in the top five, but last year’s winner Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t even in the top 20.

(The score in brackets is how the goals are multiplied, judged by the quality of the leagues in which the goals are scored)

Higuain a doubt for Napoli

Fatigue may rule the Argentine out of contention for Napoli, while Maurizio Sarri rued injuries to Manolo Gabbiadini and Dries Mertens

Maurizio Sarri has confirmed that Gonzalo Higuain is a doubt for Napoli’s trip to Verona on Sunday.

The striker has scored nine goals in 12 Serie A appearances this term, but returned from international duty with Argentina “very tired”.

Higuain was withdrawn after 70 minutes as Gerardo Martino’s side picked up their first win in World Cup 2018 qualifying with a 1-0 triumph over Colombia in the humidity of Barranquilla on Tuesday.

The Napoli coach admitted the former Real Madrid man will need to be assessed before deciding if he will be fit to feature at the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi.

“We will evaluate the condition of Higuain. He played in the heat, had a long journey and he seemed very tired,” Sarri said on Saturday.

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“We’ll see in training if he has been able to recover and hopefully tomorrow he’ll be in decent condition.

“Our plan was to use him part-time, but the injury situation is forcing us into different decisions.”

Manolo Gabbiadini and Dries Mertens returned injured, leading Sarri to question the importance of international friendlies.

“It does punish teams who have a lot of international players, as they travel all over the world for often pointless matches,” he continued.

“We are particularly disappointed to lose Gabbiadini because at this stage of the season he is essential, as is Dries.”

After 12 fixtures, Verona are the only Serie A side yet to secure a win, but the 56-year-old is not underestimating Andrea Mandorlini’s men.

“Verona are a much better side than their position in the table would suggest, so I’m sure they will recover and it’ll be extremely difficult for us,” Sarri added.


Higuain has no plans to leave Napoli – agent

The Argentine striker continues to be linked with a move away from the Serie A side but his agent has denied they are interested in a transfer

Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain is not planning for a future away from the club, according to his agent.

The Argentina international has scored 11 goals in 15 games for Maurizio Sarri’s side so far this season as the San Paolo club have started their Serie A and Europa League campaigns in encouraging form.

Higuain, who was linked with a move during the most recent transfer window, remains a rumoured target for struggling Premier League champions Chelsea.

But Nicolas Higuain – the 27-year-old’s agent and brother – says even a club willing to match president Aurelio De Laurentiis’ €100 million price tag would struggle to convince him to leave.

“We’re doing really well with Napoli,” he told

“I’ve been in Argentina for five months, I’m not travelling around the world trying to sell my brother.

“If tomorrow a club arrived and found an agreement with De Laurentiis it would be another matter and we would talk with him about it, but from our part that intention isn’t there.

“We aren’t planning a future elsewhere.”

A lack of Champions League football or a genuine Serie A title challenge has fuelled speculation regarding Higuain’s future in the past, but Nicolas believes the current side is closer than ever to a major trophy.

“Gonzalo has had a dream of winning something big with this team from the day he first set foot in Naples,” he added.

“This year, we are confident: the team is doing well, they play with more intensity, they’re more organised. 

“There is a special feeling with Sarri. Gonzalo grew up as a footballer and a person as the world’s biggest club, surrounded by champions. Now he is reaching maturity.”

Higuain agent dismisses Chelsea rumours

The Londoners were linked with a move for the Argentine, but his brother insisted that he wanted to stay in Naples and emulate the great Diego Maradona at the club

Gonzalo Higuain is happy at Napoli and is not looking to leave Serie A, according to the player’s agent. 

With Chelsea struggling to find the target so far this season, the Argentine’s name had emerged as a possible signing in the January transfer window. 

But brother Nicolas, who handles the ex-Real Madrid man’s affairs, poured cold water on the prospect of a winter switch to Stamford Bridge. 

“Three years ago Gonzalo chose Napoli and you can see how much this club means to him by what he is doing on the pitch,” the agent explained to Radio Crc.

Nicolas further explained that his brother, currently preparing for Argentina’s World Cup qualifying clash against Brazil, is desperate to lift the title and emulate another famous Argentine.

“His dream, since the first day he set foot in Naples, is to win the scudetto with Napoli,” he said.

“Diego [Maradona] won the scudetto with Napoli in his third year at the club and we hope this will be a good sign.”

Di Maria hopes Higuain replicates Napoli form for Argentina

The Albiceleste managed just one point from their opening World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador and Paraguay, but the Napoli striker’s return could prove vital on Thursday

Angel Di Maria is confident Gonzalo Higuain can help Argentina overcome their goalscoring troubles against Brazil in the absence of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero.

Gerardo Martino’s side suffered defeat to Ecuador before a draw with Paraguay in their opening two qualifiers for World Cup 2018, with Messi absent due to a knee problem and Aguero suffering a hamstring injury in their first outing.

Higuain – who missed in the penalty shoot-out that saw Chile beat Argentina to the Copa America 2015 title – was overlooked in that squad, but has been brought back in for the upcoming fixtures against Brazil and Colombia.

The 27-year-old has scored nine goals in 12 Serie A appearances for Napoli this season, and Di Maria hopes he can maintain that form with the national team.

“I’m happy about Pipa’s [Higuain] return, he is having a very good season with Napoli,” Di Maria said.

“Hopefully he can continue on this path here. I hope he helps us score goals, which is what we are missing.”

Injury once again rules out Messi and Aguero, while Ezequiel Garay and Pablo Zabaleta are also sidelined, but Paris Saint-Germain winger Di Maria still expects Argentina to challenge for a first win of the campaign when they face Brazil on Thursday.

“I think that the injuries are important, especially those of Kun [Aguero] and Leo who are fundamental,” he added.

“But the guys that are here will try to do everything to get the three points here [in Buenos Aires against Brazil] and in Barranquilla [against Colombia].

“We know it will not be easy.”