TURIN, Italy: Gonzalo Higuain hit back at critics of his controversial move to Juventus as he prepares to justify his 90million-euro price tag by helping the Italian champions to as many titles as possible.
“In life, you have to make the best decisions and I made mine by choosing Juventus,” Higuain told a small gathering of media at his official unveiling in Turin on Thursday.
“It wasn’t easy, and I had to discuss for a long time with friends and family. But after three years with Napoli, it was time for a change.
“Juventus are a club with a great history, a culture of winning and a project that excites me. I’m sure we can do well in the league and the Champions League.
“I can’t wait to show what I can do and look forward to having a great season.”
Less than a month from the start of the league campaign, Juventus are primed for a third consecutive league and Cup double-winning season.
But after the acquisition of Dani Alves from Barcelona, Croatian starlet Marko Pjaca (Dinamo Zagreb), Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic (Roma) and Mehdi Benatia (Bayern Munich), Massimiliano Allegri’s men are also expected to launch a fresh assault on the Champions League having failed to follow their 2015 final appearance last season when they were ousted in the quarters by Bayern Munich.
Yet Higuain’s move to Turin, following Alvaro Morata’s return to Real Madrid, has yet to be fully digested by Napoli and fans of the southern club.
Azzurri fans were in ecstasy last season when Higuain went on an unbelievable scoring spree to ignite belief in a first ‘scudetto’ title in 26 years.
He broke Gunnar Nordahl’s 66-year-old Serie A record of 35 goals with a tally of 36 as Napoli finished runners-up to secure a place in the group stages of the Champions League.
Higuain was feted throughout the city by their passionate fans, many of whom had tattoos of his goalscoring feats tattooed onto their bodies.
But Higuain was blasted as a traitor by Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis, when he signed a five-year deal with Juve to complete the third most expensive transfer in history.
Only Real Madrid pair Gareth Bale (100.8m euros) and Cristiano Ronaldo (94m) cost more when they joined the Spanish giants from Tottenham and Manchester United respectively.
De Laurentiis, a film producer, had slapped a 94.7m euros buyout clause on Higuain’s contract last season — only to slam him when he decided to quit the club.
“Some say that to speak of betrayal is exaggerated, but I think the opposite because there is the full sense of betrayal in this (Higuain) choice because of the ingratitude shown,” said De Laurentiis.
Higuain has also come under fire from former coach Maurizio Sarri, who claimed he had “not even received a phone call”.
Roma icon Francesco Totti, meanwhile, called the Argentine a footballing “nomad” who is a money-grabber.
At Juventus, Higuain will reportedly earn 7.5m euros a season to overtake Roma midfielder Daniele De Rossi as the league’s highest paid player.
Higuain said it was time to put the record straight.
“Relations with him (De Laurentiis) never went well because his way of thinking is at odds with my way of thinking,” added Higuain.
“I chose to join Juventus but he pushed me to do it. Now, I’m really happy I did and I want to thank Juventus for the effort they made to come and get me.”
In what was perceived as a barb aimed at De Laurentiis, he added: “Juve are a club that people around the world know about. Being a player at a great club was a big motivation for me.”