Former Argentina centre-forward Hernán Crespo believes that Gonzalo Higuaín’s failure at critical moments in big matches is a ‘psychological issue more than a technical one.’
After misses in the 2014 World Cup final, in two subsequent Copa América finals and a fluffed penalty for Napoli, which cost the Gli Azzurri a Champion League spot in 2015, Higuaín has established something of a reputation of a striker who chokes under pressure.
What is all the more frustrating is the 29-year-old’s undoubted quality in front of goal and his ability to plunder goals at club level, wherever he goes.
Off the back of the 2015-16 season having equalled Gino Rossetti’s 87-year-old Serie A record with 36 goals in the campaign, Higuaín went on to become a figure of blame and ridicule for a one-on-one miss against Chile in the Copa Centenario final.
“Why does it happen? That’s a question for a psychologist, not me,” Crespo explained in a video posted on Goal.com.
“Technically there are no questions about Higuaín, but I think in this situation it’s kind of like a chain reaction. It can happen in a final, and it can happen to anyone.
“You have to figure out whether he has the mental qualities to overcome an error, in this case certain mistakes in finals are part of his history, maybe he can’t forget them.
“It’s a psychological issue more than a technical one.”
With 31 goals for Argentina, Higuaín is only four behind Crespo in third place on a list of the Albiceleste’s all-time leading scorers. However, for all his goalscoring exploits if Higuaín’s international career were to end tomorrow, it would largely be remembered for those misses.
Crespo also touched on the current situation with Argentina but was hesitant to lay the blame squarely at the door of Edgardo Bauza.
“Analysing Bauza is complicated because he only recently started to work and in a difficult situation – there was little time because the World Cup qualifiers were already well advanced and it was a moment just to achieve the most points.
“There is a lack of identity in the team and you don’t see any idea but I hope once qualified, because Argentina will qualifty, that they can work quietly to see an identity.”
Crespo, who spent most of his career playing in Italy, was sacked as manager of Serie B club Modena last year but has been linked to managerial vacancies in Argentina since.