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As Higuain enjoys the form of his life in Madrid and with the national team, Crespo revealed that he always saw something special in the former River Plate youngster

Former Argentina star Hernan Crespo has heaped praise on Gonzalo Higuain, claiming that the Real Madrid sharpshooter has what it takes to replace him as the nation's undisputed number nine.

The 36-year-old Parma man retired from international football in 2007, leaving Argentina short of a world-class centre forward to lead on from him and Gabriel Batistuta. Higuain, however, has emerged as a real candidate to fill his shoes, with a hat-trick against Chile in last week's World Cup qualifier and a glut of goals in Spain at club level confirming the potential shown by his four-goal haul at the 2010 World Cup.

Speaking to Ole, Crespo revealed that he always believed that Higuain had the talent to follow in his and Batistuta's illustrious footsteps.

"It makes me very happy because I have always seen Gonzalo as a similar player to myself. Even more than that, I cannot lie, I said that I saw him as my successor when he had only just made his debut in the Primera with River, even before he netted twice against Boca [in the Apertura 2006 Superclasico]," the former Inter, Lazio and River Plate hitman explained.

"Of course he was not the same player as he is today, but you could already see something different in him from the start, as a goalscorer like I am you realised that he had a magnificent future.

"And I did not get it wrong! Now he is an extremely complete No. 9, with great pace, aerial ability, excellent technique and with the talent to score with both feet. I hope he can keep up his current form."

The apparent ease with which Higuain, not to mention international colleague Lionel Messi in Barcelona, finds the net in Spain has led some observers to question the overall level of La Liga in relation to the two giants; but Crespo believes that the pair's success is down solely to their own virtuoso talents.

"Although a lot of people do not believe it, it is not at all easy for players like [Higuain] or Messi to score goals for Real Madrid or Barcelona," he pointed out.

"As good as the team-mates around them may be, every goal is extremely valuable. And in the Seleccion I think he has more than earned the place he has now won for himself."

Crespo scored 35 goals in 64 appearances for the Argentine team, placing him second in the country's all-time list behind Batistuta.

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