‘This is not the right time for him to leave’ – Capello hopes Higuain stays at Milan amid Chelsea speculation

Fabio Capello still hopes Gonzalo Higuain can be a success at AC Milan, but he fears the forward will leave San Siro to play for a coach who can get the best out of him.

Higuain joined Milan from Juventus on a season-long loan ahead of the Serie A campaign but has failed to show his best goalscoring form – netting just eight times in 21 outings in all competitions – and rumours persist of a mid-season switch to Chelsea.

Maurizio Sarri is in charge at Stamford Bridge and, like Capello at Real Madrid, has worked with the Argentina international previously while with Napoli, overseeing his record-breaking 36-goal Serie A campaign in 2015-16.

The former England manager believes Higuain may push for a departure if he feels Gennaro Gattuso cannot play to his strengths in Milan.

“I got the best out of [Higuain] at Real Madrid,” Capello told Rai Radio. “I think he has been burdened by that penalty miss against Juventus [in November]. I’ve seen him play too far away from goal.

“I hope that, for Milan’s sake, he can overcome his mental block and score lots of goals between now and the end of the season. Higuain’s quality isn’t up for discussion.

“I remember when I joined Juventus and [David] Trezeguet wanted to leave. I told him to stay because he was important to me. My feeling, though, is that Higuain wants to go and play under a coach who knows his qualities and can use them.

“Milan do not have anyone in the box. If Higuain plays like Higuain, there are not many players better than him. We must ask him what he wants to do, whether he plans to stay or not.”

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However, Capello does not believe a January move would suit Higuain or Milan, advising the player to hang on until the end of the season.

“In my opinion, this is not the right time for anyone,” Capello told Tuttosport. “These are decisions that are to be made in the summer – not now.”

Higuain is eligible for selection ahead of Milan’s first Serie A game back after the winter break on Wednesday, in the Supercopa Italiana final against his parent club Juventus.


Gattuso: I hope Higuain stays as long as possible

AC Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso has stated he hopes Gonzalo Higuain remains at the club for as long as possible in the wake of speculation over the striker’s future.

The Argentine, 31, is on loan from Juventus with an option to buy at the end of the season, but there have been rumours his deal could be cut short and the Argentine could be sold to Chelsea.

Gattuso, however, has made it plain that he would like his star striker to stay, if possible.

“Higuain? Gonzalo has presented himself well,” Gattuso told a press conference.

“I hope that he stays here as long as possible; if it’s not like this, we’ll see. It will not be a problem for me.”

Higuain has notched six goals and an assist in 15 Serie A appearances, whilst managing two goals and two assists in five Europa League games.

The Rossoneri manager also made special mention of Lucas Paqueta – the exciting young talent Milan signed from Flamengo in a deal believed to be worth €35m (£31.3m/$40.15m).

Gattuso singled out the attacking midfielder’s tactical awareness as an aspect of the player’s game that surprised and impressed him, particularly considering Paqueta is just 21 years of age.

“Paqueta is a sharp player, a player with precise characteristics,” Higuain said.

“He seems like a European player, not a Brazilian, he has a Brazilian style of play but he knows the field well, he has physical quality.

“His head works well even in a tactical sense. This is something important that I am surprised about. He is a 21-year-old player who has always been a professional with charisma and who chases the opponents.

“We made a great signing.”

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Fifth-placed Milan travel to Genoa when their Serie A season resumes following the winter break on January 21.

The Rossoneri trail fourth-placed Lazio by just one point, although they are some eight points behind local rivals Inter, who sit third.

They will hope Paqueta can form a deadly combination with fellow South American Higuain to improve the club’s goalscoring record – their 26 league strikes represent the lowest tally in the top eight.


Milan chief Leonardo warns Chelsea target Higuain ‘must get to work’

AC Milan sporting director Leonardo has fired a warming to Gonzalo Higuain, saying the striker must get to work and improve at San Siro. 

The 31-year-old has been targeted by Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri, who wants to sign his former charge from Napoli in an effort to improve his club’s striker situation. 

However, Goal understands that Chelsea will not be signing Higuain during the January transfer window, with a deal proving too complicated due to the Argentine being on loan at Milan from Juventus. 

The Blues are not keen to negotiate with two different sides, and will look elsewhere for another option to compete with Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata. 

Meanwhile, the normally prolific Higuain has struggled to replicate his best form during his half season in Milan. 

The Argentina international has managed just eight goals in 20 appearances in all competitions, well off his best scoring rate during his time at Napoli and Juve. 

Higuain’s current sporting director has challenged his striker to improve at Milan, with a move to Stamford Bridge looking increasingly unlikely. 

“He has to make a decision and take on his share of the responsibility,” Leonardo said at a press conference on Tuesday. “Not this continual, ‘yes, no, I’m not sure.’

“He had a tough moment, he has to put it behind him and get to work.

“There’s no point following rumours and gossip. He is here right now. Seeing as he is here, he needs to get down and actually do something for this team.

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“A goal can change things, but if he is to continue here, he needs to take on responsibility.”

After a two-week break, Milan will be back in action on Saturday against Sampdoria in the Coppa Italia last 16. 


Chelsea’s hopes of signing Higuain dashed as Sarri’s hunt for a striker goes on

Chelsea will not be signing AC Milan striker Gonzalo Higuain during the January transfer window, with the complexities of the deal making it not viable for the Blues.

Having previously shown an interest in the Argentina international during the summer transfer window, Maurizio Sarri made it clear to the Chelsea hierarchy he was keen to reunite with a player who thrived under him at Napoli.

But with Higuain only currently on loan at Milan from Juventus, Goal understands the Premier League outfit were weary of negotiating with two separate clubs during the winter window and will now look elsewhere in their pursuit of a new centre-forward.

Former Real Madrid striker Higuain has struggled for form since swapping Juve for the Rossoneri in the summer, scoring just eight goals in 20 appearances across all competitions.

He also made headlines in November when he was sent off against his parent club, with his reaction to the decision earning him a two-match Serie A suspension.

Such performances have seen some question whether it is wise for Milan to pay the previously agreed €36 million (£32m/$42m) to make the move permanent this summer having already forked out €18m (£16m/$21m) for the original year-long loan.

Nevertheless, the 31-year-old will not be making the switch to Stamford Bridge this month, meaning Chelsea and Sarri must look elsewhere in their attempts to add further firepower to their frontline.

Sarri’s side initially started the season in fine form, scoring 27 goals in their opening 11 league matches as the Italian broke a Premier League record for the longest unbeaten start for a new manager.

But in their 10 matches since they have found the net on just 11 occasions, culminating in Wednesday’s frustrating 0-0 home draw with struggling Southampton.

Such a poor run in front of goal has seen them slip out of the title race, and with just two wins from their last four matches they are now at risk of failing to qualify for next season’s Champions League by virtue of a top-four finish.

Maurizio Sarri Chelsea 2018-19

Alvaro Morata – who was tipped as a potential option in a swap deal for Higuain in some reports – has not scored in the league since the first week of October while Olivier Giroud’s only league goal in 2018-19 was a late consolation in Sarri’s first Blues defeat at the hands of Tottenham.

As such Eden Hazard has had to carry the brunt of the goalscoring responsibility – netting 10 times in the league on his way to bringing up a century of goals for the club – with the Belgium international even having been deployed as a false nine in recent weeks.

Sarri’s assistant coach, Gianfranco Zola, has confirmed that Chelsea are keen on Bournemouth’s Callum Wilson, though he admitted they were not the only side watching the new England international.

Sarri himself, meanwhile, spoke of his wish to bring in a new forward player following the Southampton stalemate, telling a news conference: “We have to try to solve the problem of the last 15 or 20 metres.

“The club knows very well my opinion. I think we need something different for characteristics.

“I’m not in charge of the market. I have to try to improve my players, my team, my offensive phase, or better my offensive phase in the last 20 metres.

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“The club knows my position, my opinion. It’s up to the board.”

Chelsea have already made one move in the January window after completing a £58m ($73m) move for Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic, though Sarri admitted he was unaware of the negotiations surrounding a deal that will see the United States international spend the second half of the campaign back on loan at the Bundesliga leaders.

And the Blues also face a fight to keep hold of young winger Callum Hudson-Odoi, with Bayern Munich having increased their bid for the Under-17 World Cup winner to £30m ($37.5m) after his refusal to sign a new deal in west London.


‘I don’t need a striker, but maybe a winger’ – Sarri plays down Higuain links as he reveals January plans

Maurizio Sarri has played down links with Gonzalo Higuain after insisting that he is not looking to sign a striker in the January transfer window.

The Blues boss did, however, hint that he could move for a winger as he looks to provide further competition for the likes of Willian, Pedro and Eden Hazard.

Goal understands that Chelsea had been exploring the possibility of signing Argentine forward Higuain, potentially in a swap deal with Alvaro Morata, although the move is complicated by the fact that the 31-year-old is currently on loan at Milan from Juventus.

And despite Olivier Giroud – who is now facing a month on the sidelines due to an ankle injury – and Morata’s struggles in front of goal, Sarri says that he won’t ask for Michy Batshuayi or Tammy Abraham to return from loan spells with Valencia and Aston Villa respectively.

“No [I don’t need another striker], because I have the option with Hazard in this position,” he said. “We have Morata and Hazard can play very well in this position as we have seen in the last two, three matches. So I think that in this moment I don’t need another striker.  

“Maybe another winger, because now we are in trouble with the injuries of Pedro, of [Callum] Hudson-Odoi and [Ruben] Loftus-Cheek. So I have the option for the striker [Hazard] but at the moment I have no option for the wingers.”

Batshuayi has scored just three times in his first six months on loan at Valencia, and Goal understands the Blues are looking at the possibility of cutting short his spell in Spain and sending him on a temporary move elsewhere.

Aston Villa have had a far better return from Abraham, meanwhile, with the 21-year-old having scored 16 goals in 20 games for the Championship side.

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Chelsea’s struggles in front of goal have seen Sarri deploy Hazard in a No.9 position recently, with the Belgian having grabbed 10 goals and nine assists so far this season.

Sarri’s side currently sit fourth in the table at the start of 2019 having claimed two wins from their last two games after a shock defeat at home to Leicester City on December 22.

Next up for the Blues is a meeting with Southampton at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday