Maurizio Sarri has described himself as Gonzalo Higuain’s “football father” because of their working connection, and says the striker is one of those players who responds to encouragement. The Chelsea manager is now increasingly confident about his club’s season because of the relationship that Higuain and Eden Hazard have already struck up, saying they “speak the same language with the ball”.
Higuain hit his first two Chelsea goals in the 5-0 win over Huddersfield Town last week, despite a difficult spell at his last club in AC Milan. The latter never worried Sarri as he noted how Higuain was coming off the back of a poor form and some crucial missed penalties when the Italian took the Napoli job in 2015 and first met the striker, only to enjoy his best every season.
“In the moment he is really very determined,” Sarri said. “In my first season in Naples, he arrived later [due to the Copa America]. He missed a penalty in the last match in Serie A and he missed a penalty in the [Copa America] final. But he reacted really very well, he was very keen, he played an exceptional season. I think he is able to react very well to difficulties.
“That season he was really the best striker in Europe. At the moment he is really very keen, so I think that he can play a really very good season, or the last part of the season.
“He needs confidence first of all. He needs a very good relationship with the coach, with the teammates. Sometimes he needs a message from the coach in the press conference. We will see in the future.”
Higuain has always had that relationship with Sarri, which has led to him describing the coach as “like a father”. When this was put to Sarri on Friday, he quipped: “I hope I am the football father! I don’t know the mother of Gonzalo. I think that Gonzalo is very suitable for my football, so the feeling is really fantastic. It’s a football feeling, I think.”
And Sarri feels Higuain has a similar feeling with Hazard.
“I think so. Of course I am not sure, but my feeling is this at the moment. As you have seen in the last match, Eden passed the ball very often to Gonzalo, they speak the same language with the ball, and so I think that Gonzalo will be very important for us also for this [reason].”
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