Gattuso: I hope Higuain stays as long as possible

Gonzalo Higuain AC Milan 2018-19
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The Italian would like to keep his star forward despite rumours suggesting he could be on his way out

AC Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso has stated he hopes Gonzalo Higuain remains at the club for as long as possible in the wake of speculation over the striker's future.

The Argentine, 31, is on loan from Juventus with an option to buy at the end of the season, but there have been rumours his deal could be cut short and the Argentine could be sold to Chelsea.

Gattuso, however, has made it plain that he would like his star striker to stay, if possible.

"Higuain? Gonzalo has presented himself well," Gattuso told a press conference.

"I hope that he stays here as long as possible; if it's not like this, we'll see. It will not be a problem for me."

Higuain has notched six goals and an assist in 15 Serie A appearances, whilst managing two goals and two assists in five Europa League games.

The Rossoneri manager also made special mention of Lucas Paqueta - the exciting young talent Milan signed from Flamengo in a deal believed to be worth €35m (£31.3m/$40.15m).

Gattuso singled out the attacking midfielder's tactical awareness as an aspect of the player's game that surprised and impressed him, particularly considering Paqueta is just 21 years of age.

"Paqueta is a sharp player, a player with precise characteristics," Higuain said.

"He seems like a European player, not a Brazilian, he has a Brazilian style of play but he knows the field well, he has physical quality.

"His head works well even in a tactical sense. This is something important that I am surprised about. He is a 21-year-old player who has always been a professional with charisma and who chases the opponents.

"We made a great signing."

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Fifth-placed Milan travel to Genoa when their Serie A season resumes following the winter break on January 21.

The Rossoneri trail fourth-placed Lazio by just one point, although they are some eight points behind local rivals Inter, who sit third.

They will hope Paqueta can form a deadly combination with fellow South American Higuain to improve the club's goalscoring record - their 26 league strikes represent the lowest tally in the top eight.