Gonzalo Higuain will be fired up by any hostile treatment from Napoli fans in Sunday’s Serie A showdown, former defender Ciro Ferrara has warned.
The Argentina international joined Juve in a €90million deal last July that sparked fury from supporters and club president Aurelio De Laurentiis, who accused Higuain of “betraying” the club.
The striker responded by claiming De Laurentiis pushed him into leaving and went on to score the winner when the teams met in Turin in October, although he did not celebrate the goal.
Higuain will return to the San Paolo twice this week in a Serie A and Coppa Italia double-header, and although Ferrara anticipates plenty of resentment among the home fans, he believes the attention could bring the best out of the former Real Madrid man.
“The first time I went back, I was welcomed in a nice way, but then something changed,” Ferrara, who won two league titles with Napoli before enjoying spectacular success with Juve, told Corriere dello Sport.
“Maybe because, for personal reasons, younger fans only remember me as a Bianconeri player and not as the defender who won the Scudetto with [Diego] Maradona.
“I expect a varied welcome [for Higuain], somewhere between indifference and whistles. I really hope that, beyond the predictable whistling, there’s some space for some witty, subtle teasing. I hope that education and respect prevail.
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“I don’t know Higuain personally but I know for a fact that a champion of his calibre will not be scared or intimidated by a hostile atmosphere. After all, he’s already scored against Napoli in a Juve shirt, though it’s true that that was at the [Juventus] Stadium and not the San Paolo.
“Experience tells me that games like these two upcoming ones give a real lift to champions, and Higuain is one of those. The jeers could be a huge motivation.”
Nicola Amoruso – a three-time league champion with Juve who spent the 2000-01 campaign with Napoli – says Higuain must accept the inevitable when he takes to the pitch.
“Higuain is a champion and there are two very difficult games in Naples awaiting him,” he told Radio CRC. “His departure was seen as a betrayal but he gave some extraordinary performances in those three years.
“Higuain will feel the consequences of his choices the moment he steps onto the field.
“In some games, the San Paolo can give you so much and right now there is a great deal of enthusiasm in the city.
“However, when things are going badly, the atmosphere can burn you. Either way, it’s an unforgettable experience.”
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