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 By Ben Gladwell

Napoli forward Gonzalo Higuain looking to match Diego Maradona

Napoli forward Gonzalo Higuain says the difficulties he endured at the end of last season have made him a better player, but he does not want to see the expectation levels rise too high.

A succession of missed penalties, for club and country, earned Higuain, 28, criticism as the Azzurri missed out on a place in the Champions League at the end of last term, and Argentina's Copa America challenge ended.

He has hit back this season with 24 goals in as many games getting Napoli fans believing they are set to win their first Scudetto since 1990, and he now says that poor spell of form has contributed to his purple patch.

"Those missed penalties and the negative times helped me grow," he told RAI television. "It's a new year now. I've been playing football for 15 years so I know all about the pressures."

The transformation has seen Higuain earn the comparisons for an Argentine in Naples with Diego Maradona.

Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain is in scorching form, with 20 goals thus far in Serie A.
Gonzalo Higuain has scored 24 Serie A goals this season.

"If I could match what Maradona did, it would be magnificent," Higuain said. "Diego did so much and just to get close to what he achieved would be magnificent.

"But we need to remain calm and not start getting euphoric about winning the Scudetto because that could harm us. Let's just keep our feet on the ground."

League-leading Napoli travel to Juventus, their nearest challengers at the top of Serie A, on Sunday night with two points separating the two sides ahead of their Juventus Stadium encounter.

There will not officially be any Napoli fans present, with the visiting fans' sector closed, but many are expected to have got tickets for other areas of the ground.

Footage of Higuain singing "Un giorno all'improvviso" together with Napoli fans after their San Paolo victories have been going viral and he hopes to get to serenade the fans many more times this season.

"It's a beautiful song," he said. "Let's win some more games, and then you'll hear it again."

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