Higuain: Messi could not convince me to join Barcelona

The Argentine forward played down suggestions he wanted to join Barcelona this summer, but talked up the possibility of Rafa Benitez's men toppling Juventus in Serie A
Gonzalo Higuain has claimed Lionel Messi failed to convince him to join Barcelona this summer and joked his Argentina team-mate should move to Napoli instead.

Before Luis Suarez completed his move from Liverpool there were strong rumours that the ex-Real Madrid attacker would be swapping the San Paolo for a return to La Liga this summer.

Messi conceded it would be "brilliant" to play alongside his Argentina team-mate at Camp Nou, but Higuain insists that he was never swayed by the four-time Ballon d'Or winner to ditch Napoli after a single season.

"Did I want to go to Barcelona? I always told the truth and that is that I wanted to think only of the World Cup and then I would return to Napoli," the striker told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"So I kept quiet and I had nothing to fear, because there was nothing to comment about.

"Messi said certain things and I can only be flattered by them. I believe that every player would love to play alongside a great champion like him, but that does not mean that I ever wanted to leave.

"But if Messi came to Napoli, that would be great."

Higuain mused that Antonio Conte's departure from Scudetto holders Juventus will level the playing field for the rest of Serie A's top clubs and predicts a better showing from him and Rafa Benitez's men than 2013-14's third-place finish.

"Although there is no Conte, Massimiliano Allegri is a good coach so Juventus will still be the opponent to beat," the 26-year-old added.

"Roma have reinforced and Rudi Garcia has a strong team, yet this year they are involved in the Champions League which will take away some of their energy, whereas last year they had no Europe to deal with.

"So it will definitely be a more balanced league. I do not think that there's a team capable of getting 102 points this season like Juve did last season.

"The advantage we have over the last year is that our project is in motion, we know Serie A now and we have learned that we must not drop points against the smaller teams.

"Our failures should not happen again, we will always have the same attitude in every title race."