Gonzalo Higuain walked around the Plaza Cibeles and for most the message was clear, this was a farewell. Higuain has enjoyed a rollercoaster spell at Real Madrid. In December 2006, Real signed two potential stars from clubs in Buenos Aires. One from River Plate, Higuain, and the other from city rivals Boca Juniors, Fernando Gago, for fees believed when combined to be in the region of €30m. Gago would fail to settle, was shipped out on loan to Roma last term and has now been sold to Valencia. Higuain has also had problems settling. The talent was there but so were mistakes and misses that the Santiago Bernabeu were not willing to forgive and he became a victim of the boo boys. He knuckled down and injuries to others gave him a chance to shine but when Florentino Perez was re-elected most expected Higuain to be on the way out.
Higuain was content to do his talking on the pitch and the season before Perez returned he scored 22 goals, which went some way to silence his critics. Yet, Higuain was still not a fan favourite in the Santiago Bernabeu and when Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo were signed to announce the big return of Perez, Higuain was constantly linked with a move away. Once again the youngster did his talking where it mattered and with Benzema taking time to adapt he was picked alongside Ronaldo. Higuain would pip Ronaldo to the title of Real Madrid’s top scorer of the season and rumours surfaced that both players couldn’t play together and video evidence was produced of so-called incidents that proved that they didn’t like to pass to each other. All this was quickly forgotten as new Coach Jose Mourinho rolled into town and Higuain was given a new contract.
Higuain played regularly in Mourinho’s first season until an injury saw his season cut short in December and Benzema, like the Argentine a few seasons before, took advantage of the situation and started to show the form that prompted Perez to sign him. Last season saw him rotating with Benzema but eventually the French international made it very difficult to be left out by banging in the goals. Mourinho has always felt closer to Higuain but he knew that with Benzema in the form he was in, it would be insane to drop him. Higuain still took his chances when they came, scoring his 100th goal for the club in March and finished the season with 22 goals.
As the team rode around Madrid on an open top bus the jersey of Higuain stood out. Both the players and club refused to be drawn into a conversation by the media on his future but most felt that the jersey said it all. Higuain was leaving. His shirt had been signed by all the squad with messages of gratitude. English and Spanish tabloids linked him to about every club possible but Higuain before he left said all he was thinking about was a summer holiday.
As Real Madrid returned to pre-season training, Higuain gave the first interview of the season. He acknowledged that he had spoken to Mourinho about his future and the Portuguese Coach assured him that he still had a major part to play, but was quick to deny reports that at the end of last season he had asked for a move. He was also keen to comment on Barca President, Sandro Rosell, comments which suggested that Real Madrid winning the League was a strange event. Higuain was quick to point out that with more than 100 goals and points and a victory in the Camp Nou it wasn’t strange but just spectacular.
As has been the case for most of his Real Madrid career, Higuain enters the new season with a challenge to break into the starting XI but has he has proved many a time there is no better man to step up to a challenge and maybe this will be the year when he gets the full 100 per cent support from the stands, he certainly deserves it.