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Contract talks on hold with Gonzalo Higuain, rumors of departure rubbished

With extension talks tabled for now, rumors cropped up of a potential summer move to one of Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, or Paris Saint-Germain -- rumors Higuain's agent quickly rubbished.

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A couple weeks ago, we found out that Gonzalo Higuain was on a list of Napoli players who were getting offered new contracts, but now news comes that those talks have been put on hold, not long after Higuain was subject to criticism from Aurelio De Laurentiis.

According to Napoli's owner, Higuain is somewhat out of shape, leading to his struggles over the last few weeks. "[Higuain] needs to rediscover that brilliant physical condition he was in a month ago, then the results will come back" De Laurentiis said in a frustrated press conference after Napoli's loss on Thursday. That, coupled with him saying that Higuain was moving "like he has bricks in his pockets" lately likely upset Higuain, and while it's unknown the exact cause of the talks getting tabled -- well, it's easy to assume that played a role.

What is known, though, is that news of the talks getting tabled triggered a wave of rumors of teams looking at bringing Higuain in next summer. Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Paris Saint-Germain were the teams specified as most interested and "on alert" as to the striker's status -- four teams who have been linked with Higuain repeatedly in the past and who could easily afford to trigger Higuain massive €94 million release clause.

While those rumors might be concerning for Napoli fans, Higuain's brother-slash-agent Nicola wasn't terribly happy to hear about them.

Translated, for those who don't speak Spanish:

We are one point off the top of the table and people talk in order to make trouble for us. Napoli are up there and have a really good chance of winning the scudetto, so let’s stay united.  This is not the right moment to listen to a load of rubbish. Forza Napoli, together we can win.

In other words, Nicola is saying that the rumors are just BS meant to distract the team. Nicola has always been very supportive of Napoli since his brother signed with the club, so it's not surprising that he would want to quickly dispel anything related to Gonzalo that he thinks might hurt the club's chances of success.

Nicola did not, however, deny in any way the tabling of the extension talks that triggered the rumors -- something that may still be worthy of concern. Gonzalo's contract is up in 2018, meaning that this summer is the important two-year mark where a team needs to either extend a player or strongly consider selling him in order to maintain maximum transfer value, because from that point on the team's leverage in transfer talks -- and thus the fee they can get -- goes down markedly.

Hopefully this apparent tension between Higuain and the club dissipates quickly. Some success on the pitch soon would probably go a long ways towards helping that.