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Higuain startled by debut furore, wants ‘respect’

Gonzalo Higuain has demanded Major League Soccer opponents show him “respect” after the Argentine’s stormy Inter Miami debut last Sunday ended in fury.

The 32-year-old striker was goaded by Philadelphia Union players after miscuing a 77th-minute penalty as David Beckham’s American franchise crashed to yet another defeat which leaves them second from bottom in the Eastern Conference.

Higuain was furious and became involved in an unseemly altercation with at least five members of the opposition to cap an unhappy first outing since completing his move from Juventus last month.

The former Real Madrid and Chelsea striker will aim to put any disappointment behind him on Saturday when he will run out at Inter Miami stadium against New York City FC, even if the incident continues to anger him.

“I felt it was a lack of respect and I reacted,” Higuain told reporters on Thursday. 

“I believe in fair play. I am an emotional person and couldn’t accept or tolerate it. Five players were on me – that is provocation.”

Higuain, a former team-mate of Beckham, racked up 306 goals in 632 appearances for the likes of River Plate, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Napoli, Chelsea and the reigning Serie A champions, who deemed him surplus to requirements following the appointment of Andrea Pirlo as coach.

Despite leaving one Europe’s strongest teams, the former Argentina international believes moving to Miami does not signal the end of his career.

Higuain, whose brother Federico has played in MLS since 2012 for Columbus Crew and now DC United, said: “I took time to think about this decision, but this is a League I have been following for a long time and because of my brother it has caught my attention. 

“I have also seen many strikers come to MLS who have scored many goals while having a great experience so that attracted me to try this new project. 

“We have all the tools here to achieve great things. This is the best option for me.”

Inter Miami coach Diego Alonso, meanwhile, is prepared to help MLS in their battle with FIFA over the player availability for forthcoming World Cup qualifiers and friendlies.

Rodolfo Pizarro, Inter Miami’s Mexican midfielder, has been called up by national team manager Gerardo Martino for two matches – against Holland in Amsterdam on October 7th and Algeria three days later in The Hague – which will mean he could miss five MLS encounters.

While FIFA are adamant players be released, Alonso believes because Mexico’s games are friendlies, there could be a chance of keeping Pizarro in South Florida.

“We are speaking with MLS and they are in conversations with FIFA,” said Alonso.

“We have been clear. We want him to stay.”

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