Gonzalo Higuain Talks River Plate Return When Juventus Contract Expires

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2019

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 18: Gonzalo Higuain of Juventus during the UEFA Champions League  match between Atletico Madrid v Juventus at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on September 18, 2019 in Madrid Spain (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Gonzalo Higuain is happy to be back playing for Juventus, but the 31-year-old isn't ready to give up on the idea of returning to River Plate once his contract expires in 2021.

Speaking to Fox Sports Radio Argentina (h/t Goal's Chris Burton), the Argentinian discussed his current and former clubs:

"I have never closed the door to River. They have a great coach (Marcelo Gallardo), with whom I have a good relationship, and the fans have always been affectionate towards me, but now I think of the present and I feel good in Italy. I'm having fun.

The future is uncertain. I have a two-year contract here and then we'll see. I'm always tied to River, the players and the fans. To tell the truth, I don't know what will happen. But at the moment I want to enjoy Juve."

Higuain came though the youth ranks at River before moving to Real Madrid in 2006. He developed from a gifted attacking midfielder into a prolific centre-forward in the Spanish capital, winning three La Liga titles and the Copa del Rey.

He also spent five seasons at Real playing alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, whom he's been reunited with in Turin. Higuain, who spent last season on loan at AC Milan and Chelsea, told Sky Sports Italia (h/t Sport) that Ronaldo is now "a more complete player" and "more mature."

A reunion with Ronaldo is helping Higuain make the most of his second chance with the Bianconeri. So is playing for manager Maurizio Sarri again.

Videos you might like

The two worked together at Napoli, where Higuain thrived, before a brief reunion in west London:

Higuain isn't on pace to repeat those numbers, but he has scored once in five Serie A appearances. The South American also provided an assist when Juve drew 2-2 with Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Champions League last week.

So far, Sarri's star pupil is keeping Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala out of the middle of the Juventus forward line:

Higuain's performances are a far cry from his struggles in recent seasons. Inconsistency became common once he left Napoli for Juve in 2016, and he rarely lived up to the £75.3 million price tag.

He was loaned to Milan in 2018, with the Bianconeri's willingness to ship him to a rival speaking volumes about his fall from grace. Those problems persisted when Higuain scored just five times in five months for Chelsea after a brief and ill-fated spell with the Rossoneri.

The usually free-scoring striker appeared to have lost his pace in and around the box. Meanwhile, confidence in front of goal seemed to have deserted the player who used to find the net regularly during various stops at the top level.

However, Sarri can get Higuain back on track, since he knows how to gear a team's passing to the veteran's movement and timing. Meanwhile, Higuain should stay fresh during the season since he retired from international duty with La Albiceleste in May.

A fit and firing Higuain, coupled with the consistent brilliance of Ronaldo and the dynamism of summer signing Aaron Ramsey, can provide Juve with the impetus that the perennial rulers of the Italian top flight were missing in last season's Champions League.