Gianfranco Zola believes Gonzalo Higuain has the quality and intelligence to become a success in England.
The Argentinian striker completed his loan move to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night and although he wasn’t eligible to feature in last night’s win over Tottenham, he could potentially make his debut against Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup on Sunday.
Zola, who also made the switch to England from Serie A, says Higuain possesses a proven pedigree at the highest level.
‘We know he’s coming from a league where the intensity is maybe a bit lower than the Premier League but we are talking about a player who has scored not only in Italy but everywhere, and in the Champions League, we are talking about a top player.
‘I’m confident he can give something to the team, but also confident that the team will give him something. There are a lot of positive things which can happen. Twenty years ago, 15 years ago, I would have said it’s a difficult age but now with the level of professionalism and resources the players have, 31 is a good age. The age relates to the person and he takes care of himself.
‘I’m sure there are a lot of expectation but Gonzalo is used to it. He’s played for big clubs - Real Madrid, Juventus, Napoli, so I’m sure he can handle those expectations. He’s always produced good numbers wherever he’s been and, as I say, this is not a team which is desperate, it’s a team which has to add certain qualities to what it already has. We are going to help him get his goals but also he will help the team with his goals.’
Having moved to the Premier League from Italy himself, back in 1996, Zola was asked if he could offer Higuain any advice.
‘I think it will be very important for him to read the league, read the weaknesses of the league but also potentials of the league, don’t underestimate but have an open mind,’ he said.
‘That’s what allowed me to get into the system quickly. With him it will be the same, I’m sure he will be looking at defenders and thinking tactically they make some mistakes, which they do sometimes, but the intensity and physicality you have here, you don’t have in other places. I’m sure he will be reading the situation and using his ability to get the goals we need.’