David Beckham. Blaise Matuidi. Federico Higuain.
Those are just some of the people Gonzalo Higuain spoke to before making the decision to join Inter Miami. Before making the decision to become the face of the franchise. Before making the decision to be the star player that will aid in the team’s efforts to make good on its championship aspirations.
Gonzalo Higuain signed with Inter Miami two weeks ago and played in his first official match over this past weekend, but, in the continuation of what has been a strange year, the prolific striker had his introductory press conference on Thursday to talk about a range of topics. Among them, naturally, was what he is looking to achieve with his new team.
“I see the move as something important in my career to continue showing that I can keep playing and at a top level, and winning titles is important everywhere,” said Higuain in Spanish. “I value MLS highly because when you become a champion in a lot of places that you have played, you want to do so here as well.”
How the goal-scoring Higuain became the biggest Inter Miami signing to date was also brought up. The 32-year-old center forward said that the team only reached out to him somewhat recently and that things moved quickly from there.
“When I felt Inter’s interest I analyzed everything and it didn’t take long to make a decision,” said Higuain. “The project is a new team, where I see good things within the club, in how they work, the structure, the coach’s style of play, the players that are here, how they train, and how they do things well at the top.
“When you come from playing so many years at a high level, it makes you feel confident that everybody wants to do things right when you come here and see similar things.”
Inter Miami is hoping Higuain does the things he did right during his lengthy stay in Europe sooner rather than later. The expansion side has been looking for a proven striker for much of the year to help round out this inaugural roster — it is why the No. 9 jersey was left vacant until now — and has finally found one with precious few games left to play in the regular season.
The former Argentine international already made his debut for Inter Miami, starting and going the distance in a 3-0 road loss to the Philadelphia Union in which he sent a penalty kick into the stands. It was definitely not a dream debut, but it was a step towards regaining his top form.
“I felt good,” said Higuain. “I got on the ball, I had a chance to score a goal, but I had the bad luck of the penalty. Obviously the result wasn’t what we wanted, but the feelings were good. It had been two months since my last match of 90 minutes — since August that was my last match with Juventus — so I found myself feeling good.”
Higuain added that he hopes to get back to full fitness soon, but even in his best physical shape he is unlikely to press in the way that Inter Miami has for much of the season. His arrival will give the team a major attacking threat, but will force the squad to change its defensive tactics as was seen in the lopsided loss to the Union.
If Higuain can play as well Inter Miami thinks, the team will stand a good chance of making the playoffs. The South Florida side is currently below the red line in the Eastern Conference, but is within reach of a postseason berth despite having a 3-9-2 record.
Getting there is the target and the necessary next step in Higuain trying to accomplish his MLS championship goal.
“Obviously Inter Miami isn’t in a favorable position, but we’re only four points back and everything can change quickly,” said Higuain. “The important thing for the future is that the club wants to do everything right and that makes me happy that I made the right decision coming here and accepting Inter Miami’s offer.”