One of the most beloved and talismanic players on the current Columbus Crew SC roster may be on his way out at season’s end.
Andrew Erickson of the Columbus Dispatch is reporting that Federico Higuain is set to leave the club at the conclusion of the 2017 season. The Argentinian playmaker is currently in his sixth year with the Black and Gold.
BREAKING: Federico Higuain told the Dispatch the 2017 season will be his last w/ #CrewSC: "I think it’s the finish of the cycle, you know?"
— Andrew Erickson (@AEricksonCD) August 3, 2017
Federico Higuain Indicates 2017 Season Will Be His Last With Columbus Crew SC
The news comes as a surprise considering Higuain’s current form. The 32-year-old number ten has nine goals and five assists for Crew SC this season. With 11 regular season games left, he’s a mere three tallies short of setting a new career high during his time with the team. Higuain registered 11 goals in both 2013 and 2014.
Throughout his time in Columbus, Higuain has consistently remained among MLS’ best chance creators. It’s no different this year. His 2.5 key passes per 90 is tied with LA’s Romain Alessandrini for eighth in the league among players who’ve logged at least 1,500 minutes.
Despite his renaissance in 2017, Higuain has dealt with a few injuries over the past two seasons. Last year, he underwent sports hernia surgery in early June and ended up missing nearly half the team’s games. And as of right now, he’s recovering from a sprained knee suffered in training. He hasn’t played in the last four matches as a result.
Higuain’s decision is news to his manager, Gregg Berhalter. The Crew SC boss told Erickson that there is still the possibility he will remain in Columbus beyond this season. Berhalter hinted that age may be a factor here. He also emphasized that a detailed discussion about Higuain’s role with the club will commence at some point in the future.
It’s unclear what this means in the short term. Crew SC has yet to make a significant signing in the MLS transfer window. The club was linked with Venezuelan attacking winger Jhon Murillo, but his current club Benfica rejected the offer for him. Murillo has since gone on loan to Turkish club Kasimpasa.
Higuain is one of two designated players on the Crew SC roster along with Jonathan Mensah. Per MLS Players’ Union data, his 2017 salary is $1.05 million which makes him the highest paid player on the team. He remains the only player in club history to pull in annual compensation exceeding seven figures.
The transfer window closes in less than a week. So the clock is ticking for Crew SC to upgrade the roster to reinforce the team’s playoff positioning. It remains to be seen whether this latest development will force the club’s hand. But if Higuain is indeed leaving after 2017, the club has a challenge on their hands finding a player who can replicate what he brings to the pitch.
Crew SC returns to MLS action this coming Saturday in the Bay Area with a road game against the San Jose Earthquakes. It’s the lone regular season meeting between the two clubs. Kickoff from Avaya Stadium is set for 10:30 PM ET.