Maurizio Sarri — in a suit and tie! — was introduced as Juventus head coach this morning, and as part of his marathon first press conference (60+ minutes), he addressed the situation of Gonzalo Higuaín, with whom he worked to great success at Napoli back in 2015-16, and not so great success at Chelsea over the past six months.
Maurizio Sarri on how he'll dress on match days:— 32Red (@32Red) June 20, 2019
️ "I'll have to talk to the club. I'd prefer not to wear a suit and tie on the touch-line but you can be sure I won't be naked given my age..." pic.twitter.com/cHYlneExIS
First and foremost, Sarri confirmed that Higuaín isn’t staying at Chelsea, making it clear that the 31-year-old belongs to Juventus.
“I haven’t spoken to Gonzalo since the post-Europa League Final party. I had to get my ideas sorted on Juve and this club. He is a Juventus player, so when he returns from vacation, we’ll have the opportunity to talk.”
But while Sarri retains confidence in his man, he’s also not blind to the deteriorating seen in the former top level striker’s game. Even at Chelsea, it was eventually clear even for Sarri that Olivier Giroud should be the one starting the biggest game of the season.
So, as much as he might still vouch for Higuaín, it’s also up to the player now to whip himself into shape. These are similar sentiments to what Sarri was saying back in January when Higuaín arrived on loan at Stamford Bridge, but he didn’t have Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala (and Mario Mandžukić, too, maybe) also at his disposal.
“Pipa is a lad I love a great deal and it depends on him if he remains. [He] has the characteristics that allow him to play with anyone.
“I said it depends on Gonzalo because I get the feeling he didn’t enjoy the post-Juventus experience and was a little shaken after that season, these things happen. If he can get a strong reaction, he can play another 3-4 years at a high level.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Football Italia
Juventus remain saddled with Higuaín’s massive contract for two more seasons. Better them than us!