Gonzalo Higuain | The silent assassin

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Football News

As football experts around the world continue to wax lyrical about the goalscoring exploits of messrs Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, one player who has continued to fly discreetly under the radar is fellow Argentine, and Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain.

It's understandable of course. Only last week Messi broke Barcelona's all-time goalscoring record, held by Cesar Rodriguez for the past 57 years, following another impressive hat-trick in a 5-3 victory against relegation threatened Granada at Camp Nou, taking his tally to 234 goals, all at the tender age of 24.

The pint-sized magician wasted no time in making it 235, adding his 55th goal of the season in all competitions with a strike against Mallorca on Saturday.

Meanwhile, on the same evening, Ronaldo responded with an emphatic brace in Madrid's 5-1 thrashing of Real Sociedad, to become the fastest player to reach 100 goals in La Liga. The 27-year-old Portuguese forward surpassed former record-holder and Santiago Bernabeu legend Ferenc Puskas - who took 105 games to reach the landmark - by taking his tally to 101 goals in just 92 league outings.

Over the last two and a half years, Messi and Ronaldo have attacked the record books with vengeance. After all, records are there to be broken. Both players are tied at the top of the goalscoring charts with 35 league goals each this season, and with nine games remaining, have a great chance of beating the La Liga record of 40 goals, set by Ronaldo a year ago.

Since 2009 the former Manchester United star has scored 131 goals in 131 appearances for Real Madrid, while Messi has 155 goals in 154 appearances for Barcelona. This season alone, Ronaldo averages a goal every 73 minutes having played a grand total of 2543 minutes in 28 starts and one substitute appearance for Jose Mourinho's men.

In comparison, 'little' Leo averages a goal every 70 minutes from 27 starts and one substitute appearance for Barca.

Their statistics are nothing short of sensational. But, as Messi and Ronaldo continue to dominate the headlines, in terms of goals scored per minutes played, there is another player making his mark in Spain. A silent assassin who could be decisive in the eventual destination of the La Liga title.

Gonzalo Higuain has netted 18 league goals in just 1302 minutes played for Real Madrid this season. Having made just 13 starts, the 24-year-old has often found himself on the periphery of the first-team, dropped in favour of Karim Benzema, with 14 of the South American's 27 appearances coming from the Bernabeu bench.

But, despite Mourinho's questionable team selection, Madrid currently enjoy a six-point lead over Barcelona at the top of La Liga. Although they have seen their lead shrink in recent weeks, Real are still favourites to win the title for the first time since 2008, breaking a hat-trick of Barca league successes.

April 22 could be potentially significant when Madrid travel to Camp Nou to play Barcelona in the latest installment of El Clasico - a game where Messi versus Ronaldo will again be the fulcrum of pre and post-match debate.

When the two sides do meet, it's Messi who holds the advantage with many more assists than his counterpart. With 13 goals in 18 games against Madrid, compared to Ronaldo's return of 4 goals in 13 games against Barcelona, Higuain's role in redressing the balance becomes all the more important.

While Ronaldo is regarded as a player who goes it alone, Messi not only contributes his individual skills, but he is also willing to sublimate his ability for the good of Pep Guardiola's team. In short, Messi wants to play for the team whereas Ronaldo wants the team to play for him. Higuain is a hybrid of the two, and could prove to be the difference between success and failure.

The fact he has been frequently overlooked despite his impressive goalscoring record, has forced Higuain to consider his future, leading to speculation he is poised to join Chelsea.

Valued at around €20million, the talented forward almost signed for the Blues two years ago, when Carlo Ancelotti tried to bring him to Stamford Bridge. If Chelsea were to renew their interest again this summer, they could face competition from Manchester City, who have also been linked with his signature. La Liga's loss will be the Premier League's gain.

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