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Gonzalo Higuain: The legend that could have been

No one in the entire world who claims to watch or know football can come out and boast about that if they do not acknowledge the fact that Gonzalo Higuain played during his peak as one of the best strikers of this generation.

The current Chelsea player officially announced his retirement from the Seleccion stating that he would “want more time with his family.” The prolific number 9 scored a total of 31 goals in 75 appearances for the Argentina national team, putting him sixth in the list of the country’s all-time top scorers. Not just a goalscorer, Pipita also racked up a good number of assists in the Argentina shirt. He definitely is among the best ever center forward to man the blue and white of Argentina.

“Many people will be happy that my time is up”, these were the words of Higuain upon his retirement announcement and just a few will waste a second wondering why he made such a statement. Gonzalo Higuain is and was a fantastic number nice, he scored tons of important goals including a fantastic strike against Belgium that took Argentina to their first World Cup semi final appearance in well over two decades. He also scored a couple of goals that helped Argentina reach three major finals. However, Higuain will be duly remembered for the chances he didn’t bury in much more important games in the Argentina jersey and this is the reason he doesn’t have a good relationship with a large number of Argentina followers. Some also criticize him for being the cause of Lionel Messi’s blank senior international trophy cabinet. Maybe rightly so.

In the 2014 FIFA World Cup final against Germany, Higuain was presented with a golden chance to give his team the lead after just 20 minutes. A poor header left Higuain one-on-one with Manuel Neuer but Pipita, being one of the best number 9s in the world, somehow couldn’t even get his shot on target as he fired wide right in front of almost 100,000 fans. Germany went on to win the game in extra time.

A year later, Argentina got to the final of the 2015 Copa America, playing Chile. The game was on 0-0 and Argentina got the best chance of the tie with seconds remaining in the clock. Messi did well to dribble past two Chile defenders before finding Lavezzi who played a fine pass to Higuain on the far post. Unmarked, Higuain couldn’t get the shot on target. Chile ended up winning the title on penalties of which Higuain missed his shootout. What a nightmare.

A year later, in the 2016 edition of the Copa America, Argentina got to play Chile again in the final. Yet again, Higuain got a great chance to give his team the lead after a Chile defender fumbled the ball leaving Pipita one-on-one with the keeper. Higuain had so much time and space and chipped the ball over Claudio Bravo but it went off target. That was when the entire world came to the conclusion that Higuain was a certified bottler. Ever since that game, the striker hasn’t been the same and is even struggling at club level.

“You can now stop worrying whether I’m there or not,” Higuain said. It seems rather unfair on him, but Higuain should’ve at least got at least one of these chances well executed, and if only, he’d have been graced with songs of praises and put up there with great Argentina strikers like Batistuta and Crespo. Now, Argentina will have to get a replacement for their gone number 9 as they prepare for the 2019 Copa America. Aguero is still present and a new firing face in Lautaro Martinez is coming up. What next for Messi and Argentina?

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