Gonzalo Higuain's retirement: Good or bad for Argentina?
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This is not the best of times for Argentine football. And it's been a long time coming. For a country that once dominated the game globally winning the World Cup in 1978 and 1986, while producing some of the best players in the world, it's rather unfortunate. Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi will make it into the top five list of the best footballers the planet has ever witnessed since the introduction of the round leather game.
The former carried the national team on his shoulder and led Argentina to their second World Cup triumph. But his successor has achieved his own success in club football while the national side struggles. That is not to say that he has not tried. Messi has led the team to three major finals in three years, yet success has eluded the side.
Unfortunately, a golden generation of players is about to be swept away as a result of ageing. Gonzalo Higuain is one of such.
The Chelsea striker has been a part of the team alongside Messi as he has equally enjoyed a successful club career. When the list of clubs you have played for includes Real Madrid, Napoli, Juventus and AC Milan, you can be proud of having been one of the best players in your generation. In a pool of top-notch talents that includes Messi, Javier Mascherano, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, to mention a few, Argentina should have secured major silverware with relative ease.
But success has been hard to come by despite coming so close. The has left most Albiceleste fans frustrated and angry. It's so bad some have even threatened to inflict harm on some of their superstars particularly Messi. After staying away from the team following the disappointment at the World Cup in Russia, the Barcelona talisman returned during the International break. But his presence could not prevent a humiliating 3-1 defeat by Venezuela.
It was a match where most of the star names mentioned above were absent. Now at the wrong side of 30, age has caught up with most members of the golden generation. Although Messi had retired from the team before, the unfinished business of helping the national side to silverware got him to rescind his decision. But some other players feel it's time to go.
Higuain is facing a tough time in his career as the pressure to deliver the goods for Chelsea is piling by the day. Alvaro Morata was sent out on loan for failing to score goals consistently thereby making room for the Juventus striker to move to Chelsea from AC Milan where he was initially sent on loan. Only three goals scored since he arrival at Stamford Bridge means he has to do much more.
It's a task that needs full concentration and so therefore, the 31-year-old has decided to call it a day with playing for his country. Of course no one can blame a player who has given more than a decade of service to the national team for retiring. If anything, he should be celebrated. But with the Copa America approaching, could he have chosen a better time to call it quits? Maybe after the competition as he could still offer new manager Lionel Scaling a viable option in attack heading into the competition.
Argentina will definitely miss his services but the likes of Sergio Aguero and new entrant Lautaro Martinez will provide sufficient cover. That should be enough firepower for the side to do well in any competition. With that in mind, it's the right decision at the right time for Higuain. It's time for the national team to evolve and move on. The likes of Aguero, Di Maria and even Messi should follow suit immediately after the Copa, regardless of the outcome of the competition. A breath of fresh air could be all that is required to get the team winning again.