Milan - On
36 occasions last season, Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain boosted
Napoli dreams of ending a 26-year title drought as he inspired with
goalscoring feats in the Scudetto race with Juventus.
On Tuesday, Higuain went from hero to zero after completing the
world's third most expensive transfer to join Napoli's rivals in a move
that has underlined his quest for succcess, yet prompted swift
Higuain was feted as the King of Napoli only two months ago when he
broke Gunnar Nordahl's 66-year-old record of 35 goals in a single Serie A
season as the Azzurri battled Juve for a title they last won in 1990.
But less than a month before Juve begin their bid for a record sixth
consecutive title, the 28-year-old Argentine's name in Naples might as
well be mud.
As Juve fans largely rejoiced when they smashed the Italian transfer
record by paying £75.3m to capture Higuain, their
Napoli counterparts reacted by posting photos of their former idol's
shirt in the toilet.
Higuain will undergo a medical on Wednesday ahead of signing a
five-year deal that would leave him behind only Gareth Bale and
Cristiano Ronaldo in the list of most expensive transfers.
But as Juventus, who have also signed exciting Bosnian midfielder
Miralem Pjanic from Roma and central defender Medhi Benatia from Bayern
Munich, continue to reinforce Massimiliano Allegri's squad for a fresh
assault on the Champions League, they may also have unleashed the
biggest controversy of the summer.
footballers to television celebrities and even Napoli's kit man,
Higuain's move to the most potent, revered and perhaps hated club in
Italy was met with mixed reaction.
For one-club man Francesco Totti, who is set to play his final season
with Roma, it is a disaster that smacks more of "business than
"People come to the stadium to have fun and to see a player that's
always with the same team. Maybe they hope for a player that won't
betray them," he told Gazzetta World.
"Look at what's happened now with Gonzalo Higuain leaving Napoli for Juventus. It's a disaster.
"But, it's completely normal now that when a foreigner comes to Italy
he has the possibility of going to another team to make more money."
Others, such as Salvatore Esposito - who plays gangster Genny
Savastano in the hit Italian TV series 'Gomorra' - says Higuain has
become "poorer" for trading in the unconditional love of Napoli's fans
for a richer existence in chillier Turin.
"As a people, when we grow to love someone that love is
unconditional," said Esposito, sporting a Napoli top and cap in a video
posted on La Gazzetta dello Sport's website.
"The way Gonzalo left was... pathetic, if you ask me. But in the end,
it's business. I just hope the (club) president uses the money well to
invest in a decent replacement."
For Napoli's veteran kit man Tommy it was even written in the sky on
Tuesday evening when he posted a picture of smoke pouring out of nearby
volcano Mount Vesuvius.
"The mountain has seen this coming," he wrote on Twitter.
But as Totti admits, few players in the modern game remain loyal to clubs for lengthy spells, and Higuain is no exception.
After a breakthrough season with River Plate in Argentina, Higuain
spent six and a half years at Real Madrid where he helped the Spanish
giants to three La Liga titles and boosted his international status.
But continued disappointment at a lack of first-team starts put
Higuain on the market, and he moved in 2013 in a deal worth €40m.
Despite three positive seasons that notably saw him thrill fans
throughout their last campaign as he chased Nordahl's landmark, Napoli's
failed bid for the title left Higuain wanting more again.
He leaves Napoli with an Italian Cup winner's medal from 2014, for a
team that are favourites to defend their league and Cup double, and
launch a renewed bid for Champions League glory having come close in
2015 with a 3-1 final defeat to Barcelona.