AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso has dropped Gonzalo Higuain for Monday’s Serie A game against Genoa saying the Argentine forward was “not mentally ready to do battle” as a transfer to Chelsea looms.
Gattuso insisted that “nothing has been decided yet” concerning the transfer but all the talk has unsettled the 31-year-old Argentine and the team.
“I’ll be honest with you, I saw one of the worst training sessions since I have been here,” Gattuso told a pre-match press conference.
“All this talk is not good for him. I spoke to Higuain, it’s right we do this.
“I want to see people who are mentally ready to do battle and Higuain at this moment is not ready.
“I am not disappointed in him, I too have been a player. I did everything I could and he behaved correctly throughout.
“I accept his choice, just as I did with Leonardo Bonucci (wanting to return to Juventus) over the summer.
“This team needs calm, focus and enthusiasm, elements we have been lacking recently.”
Former Real Madrid and Napoli forward Higuain has had a difficult season in Milan since moving from Juventus to make way for Cristiano Ronaldo.
Milan paid 18 million euros ($20.75 million) to sign him on loan, with a clause to make the deal permanent for a further 36 million euros.
He is keen to link up again with former Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea. Higuain scored a Serie A record of 36 goals for Napoli in the 2015-2016 season.
AC Milan take on Genoa after losing the Italian Super Cup title to Juventus in Saudi Arabia midweek, with Higuain coming on as a substitute for the last 20 minutes.
Milan are sixth in Serie A, two points adrift of the Champions League places.