Gonzalo Higuain struggles with the burden of having missed clear-cut chances in major finals, Argentina great Hernan Crespo has suggested.
The Juventus striker has long been one of the most clinical strikers in European club football but has forged a reputation for fluffing his lines on the biggest of stages.
Higuain was criticised by some fans for failing to score in key games during his Real Madrid career, but his most infamous misses have come for the national team, with the 29-year-old guilty of spurning golden opportunities in the finals of the World Cup and the last two Copas America.
Argentina suffered defeat in all three of those matches and Crespo believes Higuain has never been able to put those difficult moments behind him.
"This is more a question for a psychologist, as his technical abilities are beyond any doubt," Crespo, who is behind only Lionel Messi and Gabriel Batistuta in Argentina's goalscoring charts, told Omnisport.
"It's like a chain reaction. It's not rare for this to happen in a final - it can happen to anyone. The thing is if you have the mental ability to accept the mistake, and in the next final to have forgotten the previous error.
"Obviously, in his case, certain mistakes in finals are being added to his history. He can't avoid remembering them. I repeat: this is more a psychological question than a technical one."
Mauro Icardi was again overlooked by head coach Edgardo Bauza for the latest World Cup qualifiers, with Messi, Higuain, Sergio Aguero, Paulo Dybala, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lucas Pratto all preferred.
Crespo hopes that Icardi's omission is simply down to the fact that Bauza would not want to consign the Inter captain to a substitute role, rather than a failure to recognise his quality.
"I have no doubt that he deserves it [to be called up] but if you think about it, Argentina have Messi, Aguero, Higuain up front... it's not easy," said the former Inter, AC Milan and Chelsea striker.
"I believe and I hope that the reason behind his absence is a matter of respect. That is to say: 'I haven't called Inter's captain because, in these two matches, he is at risk of watching them from the bench and playing a single minute'.
"I hope that the reason is this and not a question of technical issues, because that will worry me.
"Icardi is an extraordinary player, but I believe in Bauza's intelligence and capabilities."
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.