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Can Gonzalo Higuain live up to the Argentine legacy at Napoli?

After going to Napoli and not Arsenal can the former Real Madrid man live up to the legacy of Diego Maradona at the Stadio San Paolo?

So we finally know where Gonzalo Higuain will be playing this season. After a summer which saw him perpetually linked with Arsenal and Juventus in some of the most protracted and long winded transfer dealings I can recall Napoli have shown us all how it is done.

A little over a week after registering their interest in the player he has just passed his medical and will be photographed in a Napoli shirt alongside Pepe Reina on Monday.

Why Arsenal did not go for him now seems to be a pretty obvious Luis Suarez shaped reason but you have to wonder why. Any striker who averages a goal every 88 minutes of league football throughout his entire career is easily worth the £31.8 million that Real Madrid eventually got for his services.

But while Higuain will automatically have the pressure of stepping into the shoes of one of Napoli’s most potent ever goalscorer’s in the form of Edinson Cavani; he also knows the historical elements of an Argentine leading the line for the Partenopei.

While Lionel Messi may one day usurp him there is little doubt that Diego Maradona is currently the greatest Argentinian footballer of all time.

And arguably his greatest moments as a club player came while playing at the Stadio San Paolo in a controversial seven year stint with the club.

During that time the diminutive frontman led Napoli to their greatest ever period of success. Silverware followed; the Scudetto in 1987 and 1990; the Coppa Italia in 1987; UEFA Cup in 1989; Supercup in 1990; Maradona himself was the top scorer in Serie A in 1988.

There was also the cocaine abuse, scandal with an illegitimate son and alleged links to the Camorra which somewhat sullied his reputation in Italy.

In the end he left the club after he was banned for 15 months for cocaine abuse but that never stopped the Neapolitan fans loving the man; or indeed the club. Maradona’s number 10 shirt is still retired from service.

Indeed Maradona even asked his beloved fans to cheer for Argentina when they faced Italy in the World Cup semi-final at the Stadio San Paolo in 1990; such was the mutual reverence.

Of course there are several differences. Higuain is a different player to Maradona. While Maradona relied on craft and guile Higuain relies more on his pace and cunning; as well as his supreme confidence in front of goal.

Higuain is also a different character to the headline grabbing Maradona. A quiet, humble man he is unlikely to attract the same level of controversy as Maradona did.

But he will be expected to attract the same level of performance on the pitch. At a club where they still chant the name of their original Argentine hero; Higuain has a task on his hand living up to very lofty expectations now he has finally got his move.

image: © 3336

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