It was just a short video on social media, but it says a lot about how Gonzalo Higuain’s mood has improved dramatically since Inter Miami added playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo to the squad. list a month ago.
Higuain, holding a portable microphone, looked at the camera with a big smile and said playfully, “Test, 1-2-3, test 1-2-3. Looking for Alejandro Pozuelo! Alejandro Pozuelo, please report to reception.
He then heads to the hot tub at the team’s training facility, where he finds Pozuelo.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I am here with my friend to announce that he has been voted MLS Player of the Week and I want to congratulate him. I am very happy for him.
Before Pozuelo was traded from Toronto FC, Higuain, the league’s third-highest paid player at $5 million, had scored two goals in 18 games and was replaced in the starting lineup by Leo Campana. Since the Spaniard’s arrival, Higuain has scored six goals in seven games ahead of Saturday’s home game against Toronto.
Higuain returned to the starting XI when Campana suffered an injury and has played so well in recent weeks that he has earned manager Phil Neville the choice as a starter at centre-forward.
It’s not just Higuain’s goalscoring that has changed, it’s his attitude. Not one to hide his emotions, the Argentine star’s frustrations at the start of the season were on display with his gestures towards his teammates when he didn’t get the pass he wanted to languish on the bench. He even sat on the ball during warm-ups before a game.
Fans booed him several times earlier this season, and a fan berated him in the parking lot after the exhibition game against FC Barcelona. Higuain has been spurred on by the reviews, getting fit and playing his best since joining Italian powerhouse Juventus in 2020. He was voted MLS Player of the Week after a hat trick in the first half against Cincinnati.
In recent home games, he has received standing ovations. Higuain was jovial around the training ground and more open with the media.
Asked how Pozuelo helped him, Higuain said: “Without a doubt he is a player who has helped me a lot because with him on the pitch I don’t feel like I have to step back and get the ball back. ball. I can play where I’ve played my whole career, leading as a No.9. His arrival has made the team better, as you can see with our recent results. I’m so happy that he came for what he brings to the team and for motivating me to play better and allowing me to stay higher in attack.
Neville agreed that Higuain is a different player with Pozuelo as his partner.
“Last season we joked that we needed two Gonzalos, one to pass the ball to Gonzalo and one Gonzalo to finish,” Neville said. “Now he trusts the players to pass the ball to him and that’s why he stays higher, he has more chances behind. His goal against Montreal was sensational, especially his movement. He now has great confidence in Pozuelo and Bryce [Duke] to make that pass for him and that’s why we see Gonzalo playing the best he’s had in three or four seasons.
Higuain is 34 years old. He scored 271 goals in his 17-year career, including 107 for Real Madrid, 48 for Juventus and 31 for the Argentina national team. He tries not to take applause or boos too seriously.
“It’s football, you’re judged on results now, not on what you do in your career,” Higuain said. “That’s how fans are. So in football there are more moments of sadness than happiness because happiness is fleeting, but bad times stay with you longer. If you can’t live with that, you can’t play football at the highest level.
Criticism “made me stronger,” he said.
And then he added: “Forget what they tell you that being a professional football player is all rosy and wonderful. It’s a lie. Professional football is about sacrifice, work, changing your mind. “People notice when they insult you. The key is to ignore destructive criticism and take constructive criticism. You learn that with experience.”
He admitted that he had had some mood swings this season.
“I always try to be a happy person, but I’m a human being and I can’t be happy 365 days a year,” he said. “Everyone has good days and bad days. I am not a robot. What changed me is that I found pleasure in playing again. Earlier this year I wasn’t having as much fun because I wasn’t playing or for other reasons, but now I’m having fun. Things are going well for me and for the team and it shows on the pitch. Getting applause is always nice, but you can’t go wrong. Next week, I could still receive insults. It’s soccer.
Higuain retired from international football in March 2019. An Argentinian journalist asked if there was a chance he would return to the national team. The answer? No.
“When I make a decision, whether it’s good or bad, I have no regrets and I don’t look back,” Higuain said. “I had great experiences with the national team, others not so good. For a footballer, it’s the greatest honor to play for his country. I have to play in the World Cups. I realized all my dreams. The only thing my generation lacked was to win everything.
“But the journey that no one can take away from me, what I’ve been through, what I’ve enjoyed. Most people would pay to play one World Cup and I was lucky enough to play three. More time passes, the more I realize how much I enjoyed, what I experienced, but I see no possibility of going back.
He wants to spend more time with his wife and daughter, help Miami qualify for the MLS playoffs and said he would have to be “a masochist” to get back into the intense bubble of a World Cup.
Higuain’s MLS contract expires in December, when he said he would make an announcement about his future. In the meantime, he intends to have fun.
Inter Miami launches a foundation
Inter Miami announced the official establishment of its foundation, a nonprofit arm that has worked since the club’s inception to help at-risk youth and underserved communities in South Florida.
The 28 players on the list launched the initiative by making donations. Fans will be able to support the Foundation by purchasing Inter Miami CF Foundation merchandise and signed memorabilia, with all proceeds going directly to the Foundation.
Among the projects the club has participated in so far: soccer equipment drives, back-to-school drives, cancer research fundraisers, youth clinics, food drives, literacy programs . The club has been generous with Little Haiti FC, a free non-profit youth football program. Last week, Inter Miami donated laptops to Little Haiti FC players heading to college on a scholarship.
“When I was a player, it was always important to get out into the community and help people,” said Inter Miami sporting director Chris Henderson. “You have a short period where you are a professional athlete and can influence people’s lives and be a role model.”