The autumnal air has arrived for another session taking its place in the environs of England’s capital city. The change in color of the leafy landscapes of London are this year accompanied by a buzz not heard or felt in a few years. What exactly is all the excitement about?? Why is this city in this October alight with a celebrated anticipation?
What’s The Morata?
The hum reverberating stems from this very Premier League season unfolding in which the three biggest clubs in London are absolutely purring. To such a degree that all of them are dead even on 21 points occupying the third, fourth and fifth positions in the table. Arsenal are playing with a fluidity and freedom not seen since the old days of Arsene Wenger. Tottenham are finding ways to win built on their sturdy and stingy back line as well as the proper emergence of Érik Lamela and Lucas Moura. And then we have Chelsea. The Blues have discovered a new quick passing and high pressing identity under Maurizio Sarri which finds them undefeated across all competitions this season so far.
But this Chelsea side is excelling without the dominant presence of a striker. Olivier Giroud has zero goals in the Premier League. That’s the same amount as you and me. And Álvaro Morata has just two. And it is the latter of these two that I just can’t stop thinking about. Morata, on paper, should be asserting himself in this league. With bloody aplomb ‘n all. He has the height, technique and experience to do legitimate damage against any defence. He has had time to settle, although it can’t be easy playing under two different managers in your first two seasons in a new country. But at £58m, that is enough time and tolerable enough circumstances that Morata must now be flying. Especially in this team. Especially without the more stifling Antonio Conte on the sideline. And most importantly, ESPECIALLY with Eden Hazard in Ballon d’Or form.
Yet it still doesn’t seem to be clicking. And if I’m on the Board of any other team around the world, it is time to buy low on Álvaro. The upside is truly tantalizing. The Spanish forward just turned 26 this week. He has already played for Real Madrid and Juventus (interestingly, 63 appearances for both). He already has amassed trophies (2 La Liga titles, 2 Copa del Rey winners medals, 2 Champions League trophies, 2 Serie A titles, 2 Coppa Italia winners medals, 1 FA Cup winners medal) and played in humongous matches in the most glittering of lights. He has 25 Spain caps. And he isn’t cup tied in the Champions League this season! The man can play and this situation just feels like Chelsea might be the wrong fit.
Morata seems shot of confidence, a mortal sin for a striker. He isn’t scoring and he simply isn’t playing well. He looks lost and defeated (his goal celebration versus Videoton recently featured Álvaro sinking into the arms of Willian seemingly in tears). He changed his number from 9 to 29! All the tricks are coming out of the box. There have been glimpses of Morata’s prolific old ways throughout the last 15 months or so, but just not enough. Not for this caliber of player. Things have gotten so bad that he played himself out of a spot on Spain’s 2018 World Cup team. A team which he would normally walk into (Lucas Vázquez and Rodrigo Moreno were deemed more valuable).
And this is why Chelsea must be looking to sell. Looking to chalk this transaction up as a loss and recoup some of the funds. It would make sense. Teams should be lining up and preying on the club’s vulnerability. A successful bid of £40m and under would be a snip for the pedigree of talent one would be acquiring. The main stumbling block being that, as stated earlier, Giroud is not exactly taking adavantage of the situation leading Chelsea to presumably being more conservative in the January window. They can’t let go of Morata until they themselves purchase reinforcements. The Blues are looking to win the title back and they will need the requisite depth to do so. That surely involves two strikers they can depend on. Seeing as though they currently have no strikers they can do the aforementioned depending on, prying Morata away from London could be tricky. But the talisman should have his suitors.
Bayern Munich would be a perfect landing spot for Morata. The Bavarian titans are treading water. They aren’t struggling per se, but they are certainly not themselves. They’ve uncharacteristically dropped early Bundesliga points and have shown signs of bona fide shakiness in the Champions League. Bayern has one of the best in the business up front already in Robert Lewandowski, but they need more. They need more to chase the numerous trophies that are constantly on their agenda (the league title, the DFB-Pokal Cup and the Champions League are always the aim). It is a long season and relying solely on the Polish hitman would be a mistake. Sandro Wagner is not going to cut it. Thomas Müller is in decline and not an out and out striker. The club is spoilt and consequently view winning as inevitable. Their seasons are judged on the trophies they accumulate and in order to keep up with the ludicrously high standards they have set, they need additional firepower up top. Bayern has already gone scoreless in two recent Bundesliga matches (versus Hertha and Möchengladbach) and failed to find the winning goal at home to get all three points against a far weaker Ajax in the Champions League. This is a big deal for a team usually in dominant control of the league and their European group state by now. Morata is young and quick and a target in the box. His style would fit in easily to the 4-3-3 deployed by coach Niko Kovač. What’s more, Morata is entering his prime years and could eventually usurp and replace the 31-next-summer Lewandowski. Just a thought.
Another appropriate destination for Álvaro would be the Rossoneri of Milan. This is a club attempting to get back to the heights of Italian football finally after so many years of dabbling in futility and cavorting with irrelevance. They are on the ascendancy and as evidenced by their late loss to Inter in the Derby della Madonnina, require just a bit more quality. In the final third, their reliance on Gonzalo Higuaín is conspicuous. If the Argentine superstar isn’t firing, then who will step up? Patrick Cutrone is very young at 20 years old, but is showing some signs of brilliance for the future. Suso is average and certainly not a striker that will rain glory down upon the Milanese. Someone is needed. Someone with class who could either partner Higuaín or spell him throughout the duration of the extensive season (Milan are also battling in the Europa League, which may turn out to be their most efficient route back into the Champions League). And at 31 years old in December, Milan need an elite forward who may at some point soon replace Gonzalo. The scene is set for Álvaro Morata. A footballer intimately familiar with Italian football and its league having triumphed twice with Juventus. He has proven he can score at that level and he will also have a chip on his shoulder knowing that his 15 Serie A goals in total are a number he can emphatically add to in a hurry. Milan legends Leonardo and Paolo Maldini are back in the front office fold after the change in ownership and those two need to get the Chelsea brass on the line and sound them out.
And there are, of course, various other clubs he would slot into nicely (Tottenham, anyone?). Teams are always looking for excellent strikers possessing the potential to be upper echelon. And Chelsea may be interested in short term swap options as well increasing the leverage some teams may have over others (a club with an older and in form striker could aid a player plus cash offer to Chelsea). There will be a market for Morata, no question, but what will in fact be in debate is who will be coming through the doors of Stamford Bridge in return. His future hinges on that slight detail.
It’s all easier said than done, I know, but watching this behemoth gradually melt in the South England rain is becoming a minor tragedy. A chance on him was taken and it hasn’t gone to plan. Now is the time to act for all parties involved as Álvaro Morata is reaching his most fruitful period and hasn’t (yet) damaged his reputation to any unsalvageable degree. There are European giants who could massively benefit from his talents. So now is the time to act.
It would be good for the game, good for Spain and good for those of us not trying to see grown men cry after scoring somewhat meaningless goals against Hungarian club sides.