Hernan Crespo: Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain is my natural successor in the Argentina national team

As the 23-year-old enjoys the form of his life with both club and country, the ex-AC Milan man reveals that he always saw something special in the former River Plate youngster
Former Argentina star Hernan Crespo has heaped praise on fellow countryman 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 La Liga 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," the former Inter, Lazio and River Plate hitman explained.

"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].

"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 frequency in which Higuain and international colleague Lionel Messi at Barcelona find 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 talent.

"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 added.

"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 national team, placing him second in the country's all-time list behind Batistuta.