The Argentine has been in fine form this season, scoring 12 goals in 14 league games, and the ex-Italy boss believes he is as crucial to his side as his compatriot is in Catalonia
Marcello Lippi says he shares Roberto Mancini’s opinion that Gonzalo Higuain is as decisive for Napoli as Lionel Messi is for Barcelona.
The Argentine striker made the difference for Napoli with a double in their recent 2-1 win over Mancini’s Inter, prompting Mancini to say he offers his side a threat that “the other teams don’t have”.
And Lippi feels the former Real Madrid man, who is currently the league’s top goalscorer with 12 goals in 14 games, is the key player for the Serie A leaders.
“I agree with Mancini,” the ex-Italy coach told reporters. “Higuain for Napoli is as decisive as Messi at Barcelona.
“There is great enthusiasm in this Napoli side under Maurizio Sarri and I like that a lot.”
The 67-year-old also spoke highly of Paulo Sousa, whose Fiorentina side are just two points off top, and believes it was inevitable that Juventus would climb back up the table after a rough start to the campaign.
“Sousa brought his own ideas to Fiorentina,” he added. “He had already done well at Basel and is doing very well at Fiorentina.
“Juve’s rise was predictable. The other teams did not have a very fast pace but Juventus are returning. I do not know if they will win the league, but they certainly will fight for the top positions.”
Lippi is now unemployed after leaving Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande after two years in charge and he says he is looking for a new challenge in Italy.
“I said that China changed a bit of my state of mind,” he said. “When I was there I was convinced that I no longer wanted to be a coach, then when I got home I realised that it’s not that I no longer wanted to work in football, it was just that I no longer wanted to stay away from home, to return once every five or six months.
“Now the desire for football is still there, so if an opportunity comes, good, but if not then that’s okay.”