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Toxic Atmosphere Surrounding National Team Forces Gonzalo Higuain Into Retirement

Gonzalo Higuain has called it quits on his national career after ten years with la Albiceleste. The Chelsea star was one of Argentina’s best strikers in recent years, scoring 31 goals in 75 appearances, but his decision to retire from international duty comes after constant criticism from Argentina fans.

Higuain played in three World Cups and three Copa Americas for Argentina. The criticism from fans pertains to missed opportunities by the striker in these tournaments. In his announcement, Higuain pushed aside the critic's branding of him as a “failure” in these competitions.

“I think it is done for me. I want to enjoy my family and myself. They called us failures for reaching three finals in a row and not being able to win them, one of those a World Cup final. From my point of view, failure is another thing.”

But still, it’s hard to argue that Higuain isn't right, as the toxic atmosphere surrounding the national team is taking its toll.

Take Lionel Messi for example, who has taken his space from the national team due to its struggles on and off the pitch.

Even though Higuain is only 31, it’s time for him to step away, especially when he’s not going to be appreciated. It's true that Argentina has underperformed in recent years, but is the scapegoating and vitriol warranted? Probably not.

Even Brazil hasn't been a major contender in World Cups for the past few cycles, especially after the 7-1 drubbing by Germany in Belo Horizonte. Brazil fans nonetheless have been behind their team no matter what. With Argentina, it doesn't seem that way at all. 

The striker seems happy to be leaving the team too, stating that he can watch from the sidelines while his family won’t be hurt by the constant criticism. The announcement is good for players like Mauro Icardi too. The Inter talisman has only made a handful of appearances for Argentina but his constant goal output and classic number nine play up front is just what the team needs.

Regardless, it’s not a happy ending to Higuain’s international career. No player wants poor treatment from the fans, even if some of it is warranted. Higuain and Argentina are not failures, and scapegoating players by fans and the media will do nothing more than make matters worse.

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