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Legendary striker prefers one-time Arsenal target to Cavani

Gabriel Batistuta holds Napoli’s Gonzalo Higuain in higher regard than the departed Edinson Cavani.

Few players have been more revered than the latter by the fanatical support at the San Paolo down the years – the eternally beloved Diego Maradona of course taking precedent over all.

Cavani was nothing short of a beloved adopted son of the fiercely proud southern Italian city, however, one that to fans’ utmost dismay was prised away by Paris St Germain to the tune of €64.5m over the summer.

The search for a replacement led president Aurelio De Laurentiis to Higuain – of course caught in a well-documented transfer saga involving Arsenal – the Partenopei choosing to meet Real Madrid’s demands of £35m as the Gunners balked at such a price-tag.

The Argentina international had been left with what some saw as an impossible task – to fill the shoes of a predecessor that had developed into one of the world’s most lethal finishers in Azzurri colours.

But countryman Batistuta – a legend at Fiorentina also endeared to the Roma faithful for his Scudetto-winning exploits – believes Higuain has lived up to expectations, going even a step further.

“It was not easy for Higuain to inherit Cavani’s place, but he is succeeding,” he told Il Mattino.

“Gonzalo churns out assists, tracks back to midfield to participate in build-up play and bring the team forward and has present in front of goal.

“He may not be as flashy as Cavani in the sense that he doesn’t score as many goals, but I consider him a more complete player and therefore prefer him.

“He’s a coach’s striker, period.”

It’s a bold statement from the former Serie A mainstay, but one Batistuta may have been inclined to make on the merits of a lovely performance from his fellow Argentine at the weekend against Milan.

A match-winning brace saw Higuain bring his aggregate goals and assists total in a Napoli shirt to 26 across all competitions this term.

Cavani’s tally in the same regard stands at 20 for his first season at the Parc des Princes, though in fairness the presence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic has an effect in this area – one the Argentine doesn’t have to contend with.

Yet such lofty praise from Batistuta need not be downplayed – even if Higuain has plenty to do in Naples to glean the sort of adoration his Uruguayan forerunner received.

According to the man known as ‘Batigol’, he’s on the right track, however.

And if his achievements can indeed lead Napoli to a Champions League berth for next season after a disappointing elimination this time around, chances to continue building his legacy at the San Paolo should steadily come with.

image: © dundasfc

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