Napoli manager Rafael Benitez confirmed that Gonzalo Higuain asked not to be selected for the recent clash against Palermo, but insisted that the striker is not unsettled at Stadio San Paolo.
The Argentina international has attracted widespread interest from a host of Premier League clubs in recent months, but the Serie 'A' coach is adamant that the player's desired omission from the starting line-up was in fact to protect himself against injury.
The Daily Express reported earlier this week that Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool are all considering renewed bids for Higuain when the transfer window reopens in January, and that news has prompted speculation the 26-year-old might want to leave Italy.
Reds boss Brendan Rodgers has been mooted as an admirer of the former Real Madrid man, and was said to be interested in bringing him to Merseyside after Luis Suarez's £75 million transfer to Barcelona.
Of course, Liverpool opted instead to complete the cut-price signing of Mario Balotelli from AC Milan, but could still move for Higuain at some point in the future, particularly in light of the latest development, even after former boss Benitez's denial.
"Higuain asked not to play that's why he was on the bench," he was quoted as saying after the game.
"He told me that he was tired after playing three games in a row and playing a fourth could have caused physical problems."
Liverpool could still face serious competition for the £80 million-rated striker's signature as Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho are both confirmed fans of the South American star as well.
However, it remains to be seen whether a move to the Emirates, Stamford Bridge or indeed Anfield transpires at the turn of the year.
For now Higuain will remain at Napoli and attempt to improve the club's fortunes, with pressure growing on Spanish coach Benitez after a disappointing start to the 2014/15 campaign.
The World Cup finalist eventually made a cameo appearance during the 3-3 draw with Palermo in midweek, but was unable to affect the scoreline, adding to Partenopei fans' misery following earlier defeats against Chievo and Udinese as well as the club's exit from the Champions League.
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