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De Laurentiis accuses Higuain again

The Argentine, who joined Juventus last summer, enjoyed three prolific years in Naples but penalty misses contributed to a fifth place finish in 2015

Outspoken Napoli president Aurelio De Laurenttis has accused Gonzalo Higuain of costing the club Champions League football in 2014-15. If he doesn’t show a big impact on Juventus in Champions League this season, this could make him a good bet to make a move in the next transfer window according to

The Argentine enjoyed three prolific seasons in Naples, netting 91 times in 146 appearances.

He improved his goal return year on year, with his final campaign delivering 38 efforts and a second place finish in Serie A.

It was, however, the season prior to that which saw the striker struggle on penalty duty and fail to inspire Napoli to better than a fifth place standing.

De Laurentiis is not about to forget that fact, with the Napoli supremo taking another veiled dig at a man he saw lured away to rivals Juventus in a big-money deal last summer.

He told El Pais: “He had a release clause and if someone was interested and mad enough to pay it, I wasn’t going to say anything.

“But there are other players who accept being considered part of my family and who look on me as a father figure. Those that aren’t like that; it’s better to sell them every three years.

“He had one of his best seasons here but in his second we missed out on second place and the Champions League because he missed decisive penalties.”

De Laurentiis also revealed that Higuain was never a fan of a certain Spanish team-mate during his time at Napoli, despite the pair moving to Italy at the same time from Real Madrid.

He added: “Higuain’s brother always told me that he didn’t like playing with [Jose] Callejon and that I should buy other players.

“But I never took any notice of him because I love Callejon. I’m not someone who can be blackmailed.”

Higuain Must Settle into Role to Enjoy Argentina Success









Napoli, tegola per Benitez: Higuain ko c” (CC BY 2.0) by NazionaleCalcio

Gonzalo Higuain put in another clinic for Juventus to guide the club to a 2-0 victory over Sassuolo to take Massimiliano Allegri’s men four points clear at the top of Serie A. I Bianconeri are on their way to securing their sixth title on the spin – in part down to the Argentine’s brilliance in front of the net.

Against Sassuolo he was at his predatory best in front of goal, scoring in the ninth minute to put his team ahead before assisting the second for Sami Khedira to find the net. The 29-year-old has matched all expectations of him since signing from Juve’s Serie A rivals Napoli in the summer.

Higuain has been a star in the Italian top flight, enjoying the best form of his career and even surpassing the heights he soared to during his seven years with Real Madrid. However, he has struggled to reach the peak of his powers in the international arena, despite a decent scoring record with 31 goals to his name in 67 appearances.

Most of his strikes have come against inferior opposition with the highlight of his career with La Albiceleste being his hat-trick in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup against South Korea. The 29-year-old has also endured hardships playing for his country, none more so than his one-on-one miss against Manuel Neuer in the 2014 World Cup final that would have put his side ahead in the contest.

Higuain did find the back of the net later in the match at the Maracana, but his effort was ruled out for offside and he was later substituted for Rodrigo Palacio before Germany went on to the win the match in extra time. Argentina have struggled to get over the hump at major tournaments, despite the presence of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Higuain in their frontline.

As a result, La Albiceleste will be determined to use the last years of their potent striker’s international career in one last attempt to win the World Cup in 2018. Argentina are backed in the latest international football betting odds at 8/1 to triumph at the competition in Russia and secure the trophy for the third time in their history.

Higuain’s problems translating his form could be down to his role in the side as he and Aguero play with similar styles – both men are poachers in the box. Therefore he may have to alter his style of play fit into the side, although with Messi in the team any striker should be able to thrive on the service they usually provide.

The 29-year-old seems to suffer from the English disease of cracking under the pressure, but only in big games on international duty. How many times did Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney and Frank Lampard produce magical moments in the Premier League at critical times, but go missing for the Three Lions in the Euros and the World Cup?

Higuain has suffered a similar issue with his miss in the World Cup final and a penalty shoot-out miss against Chile in the 2015 Copa America final. Desperation to perform can heap pressure on even the best of players as Messi has found at international level. Higuain must find a way to relax to bring out the world-class player that has been seen week in and week out in Serie A boosting La Albiceleste’s pursuit of the World Cup.

Roma coach Spalletti warns suitors off Premier League target Manolas

Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea have all shown interest in the Greece international, but the Serie A side will not give him up without a fight

Roma head coach Luciano Spalletti insists that Kostas Manolas is happy at the club and will not be sold in the transfer window.

The Greece international has been linked with a number of Premier League sides, with his agent claiming that Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea were all monitoring his situation in the Italian capital.

However, Roma president James Pallotta said last week that there was no reason for the centre-back to leave as he was enjoying life at the Stadio Olimpico.

And Spalletti has echoed those comments, saying Manolas will not be sold even though rumours in the media have created “problems”.

“I think it’s easy for those of you [journalists] who are here in close contact with the team to see that there’s no pressure,” he said. 

“Manolas is a good player, like many others, and it’s normal that other clubs should be interested in good players. But the lad’s intentions are very clear – there’s no pressure there.

“When people start talking about pressure it creates problems even when there isn’t actually any. Manolas is staying at Roma.”

Despite his stance on Manolas’ future, Spalletti remains on the look-out for potential reinforcements in defence before the start of the season.

GOALREAD MORE  | Pallotta hints at longer Totti stay

“We already have a very well-equipped squad but obviously if opportunities arise we’ll try to improve it,” he said. “We’ll probably see if we can bring in another defender but that would be above and beyond what we already have here – which is a well-rounded squad.”

Serie A champions Juventus appear set to sign Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli for a fee in the region of €94million, having already bought Miralem Pjanic from Roma for €32m as part of an extensive recruitment drive.

Spalletti expects Juve to remain a fearsome opponent irrespective of Higuain’s future, or that of Paul Pogba, who remains heavily linked with a world-record move to Manchester United.

“Juventus will become what they already were before: an extremely good team,” he added.

“They will remain an excellent team regardless of whether or not they sell Pogba and whether or not they sign Higuain.

“Juventus have sold top players in the past who they then replaced. Napoli will do likewise and so will Roma, as we’ve sold some players. The wheels of the transfer market need to keep turning and that means there are always opportunities.”

Why Juventus are willing to pay €90 million for Higuain

The Bianconeri are ready to make the Argentine the third most expensive player in history in the hope of ending their two-decade wait for Champions League glory


Juventus want to win the Champions League at all costs – even if that means paying €90 million for a player who will turn 29 before the turn of the year.

The Bianconeri’s decision to activate the buy-out clause in Gonzalo Higuain’s Napoli contract, which could yet see other players moving in the other direction, has shocked some observers given their previous parsimony in the transfer market. However, this is a club driven by the desire to return to the summit of European football and they are prepared to make some calculated gambles in order to make that happen.

It is now 20 years since Juventus last lifted the Champions League, which is an agonising drought for a club of their size. They have been beaten finalists four times in the interim, losing in 1997, in 1998, on penalties to AC Milan in 2003, and suffering a 3-1 defeat to a brilliant Barcelona side in Berlin just over 12 months ago.

Juve’s run to the final of 2014-15 final was a surprise, with the Old Lady overcoming Real Madrid in the semis, but it convinced everyone at Corso Galileo Ferraris that they were just one or two world-class players away from continental glory.

Signing Miralem Pjanic was a masterstroke. The Bosnian playmaker is, at 26, at the peak of his powers and offers the kind of craft and ingenuity that Juve have been lacking in midfield – particularly since the departure of Andrea Pirlo. Landing a player of such quality for €10m less than Manchester United paid Borussia Dortmund for Henrikh Mkhitaryan represents a bargain in the current market.

The same could not be said of the signing of Higuain. The Argentine has been acquired with the sole intention of winning the Champions League. It has long been felt that Juve have been lacking a prolific No.9. Now they have the man who broke the single-season goalscoring record for Serie A.

But Juve have not made Higuain the third-most expensive player of all time to win a sixth successive Scudetto. They will privately view another domestic title as a formality. The former Madrid man has been brought on board to deliver the Champions League, with the Bianconeri confident that he will form a formidable frontline with compatriot Paulo Dybala, the 22-year-old livewire who enjoyed a sensational debut season in Turin following last summer’s switch from Palermo.

“Higuain is a great player who guarantees an important step up in quality for Juve,” Italy icon Paolo Rossi told La Gazzetta dello Sport on Sunday. “Now they can really go on to win the Champions League.

“Dybala is extraordinary and can play alongside anyone, so I’m sure he’ll form a crazy partnership with Higuain. They can become one of the best strike partnerships in Bianconeri history.”

The imminent departure of Paul Pogba to Manchester United threatened to undermine Juve’s attempts to re-establish themselves among Europe’s elite and Manchester City’s interest in Leonardo Bonucci also suggested the Bianconeri were a big fish swimming with sharks.

The Italian champions are presently in the process of tying Bonucci the latter down to a new deal, one that will earn the play-making centre-half €5m season after tax, but it is the move for Higuain that is of greatest significance.

It is a statement signing; a message to the rest of Europe’s elite that Juve mean business. Big business, as underlined not only by the €90m transfer fee but also the fact that Higuain will earn €7m after tax for the next four years.

It is a colossal investment in a 28-year-old who has a reputation for missing big chances in big games – but, as far as Juve are concerned, if Higuain fires them to Champions League glory, it will be money well spent.

Maradona 'hurting' as Higuain closes on Juventus move

The Argentina legend insists the striker is not to blame but believes the Napoli fans will be hurt by the striker’s sale

Former Napoli star Diego Maradona says he is “hurting” at the prospect of Gonzalo Higuain joining Juventus.

Widespread reports in Italy on Saturday suggested the Argentina striker is poised to move to the Serie A champions after they agreed to meet his release clause of just over €94 million.

The staggering sum would make Higuain the second most expensive transfer in history, behind Gareth Bale, who left Tottenham for Real Madrid for €100m in 2013.

Italiano | Castellano Mi dispiace che Higuain vada da una rivale diretta come la Juventus. Ma non si può neanche dare…

Posted by Diego Maradona on Saturday, 23 July 2016

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis said this week that the pursuit of the striker was “a lost battle”, given that Juve general director Giuseppe Marotta had himself stated that they would not trigger the release clause.

However, with the 28-year-old reportedly having undergone a Juve medical in Madrid on Saturday, Napoli fans led a minor protest against De Laurentiis outside the club’s training base, furious at the prospect of losing last season’s Serie A top scorer to their title rivals.

And Maradona, who inspired Napoli to two Scudetti, the Coppa Italia and the UEFA Cup, feels supporters are being overlooked by “those fat cats of business” – though he said Higuain himself is not to blame.

“This Higuain affair is hurting me because he is going to a direct rival like Juventus,” he wrote on his official Facebook page. “But we cannot blame the player either.

“A player has a responsibility to himself and it is those fat cats of business that are grinning the most in this case. Nobody thinks of the fan.

“I’m tired of saying that today it seems to be more important to be a good businessman than a good president. This did not happen in my time. Too bad that FIFA continues to sleep.”

Higuain’s predicted move is likely to accelerate rumours surrounding Paul Pogba, with Manchester United reported to have reached an agreement with Juve to sign the France international for a world-record fee of close to €120m.