Amidst frequent chatter about a potential Stamford Bridge departure for Alvaro Morata in the January transfer window, the Spaniard is ready to prove what he can still bring to Maurizio Sarri’s side, after starting November with a brace against Crystal Palace.
By all standards, the striker has had a difficult 2018, though he has began to show glimpses of the player Chelsea signed from Real Madrid for around £60m in the summer of 2017. Yet, his second goal against Crystal Palace was his sixth of the season and his fourth in as many Premier League games, equalling the tally he attained in his previous 24 appearances in the English top flight.
Though his time in London hasn’t gone as well as initially hoped, it is easy to forget how well Morata’s Chelsea career actually began. With six goals and two assists in his first six games, he looked unstoppable and proved that he was worth his one-time status as Chelsea’s most expensive signing. However, the fact that he thrives on confidence is – as it is with anyone – a weakness as much as it is a strength.
Summer 2017: Morata arrives at Stamford Bridge.
No other options
Though some believe he is more suited to a different setup, he can still bring something different to Maurizio Sarri’s three-pronged attack. This is reflected by his recently-shortened odds of 33/1 within the Premier League betting market for top scorer.
Aside from just his goal-scoring being crucial to Sarri’s title plans, the Spaniard has also demonstrated how well he reads the game – even in those periods of poor form. Positional rival Olivier Giroud, who is more of a natural hitman than a game reader, went into November goalless in the league, and this too plays into Morata’s hands.
The Spaniard is now set to become invaluable to a side with the two-fronted battle for silverware set to take its toll prior to a packed festive period. Whilst some of the chances he’s missed this year have been comical, a player with Morata’s footballing intelligence is difficult to come by and isn’t one that should be disregarded due to a period of poor form.
His ability to find that space in behind the defence, and the capacity to create those opportunities for himself, shows that it would be unwise of Chelsea to offload him in January. Considering that he has been described as ‘fragile’ by Maurizio Sarri, it would be even more unwise of him to accept any sort of move to a new environment, with Morata needing to maintain his perceived standing as Spain’s number one striker.
Sarri provides an honest appraisal of Morata after his brace against Palace.
Sticking, not ‘twisting’, key to international joy
Having been omitted from every Spain squad between March and September (including the World Cup squad) Morata returned under new Spain manager Luis Enrique, playing 90 minutes in a 4-1 win against Wales last month. That re-introduction to the national side, for which he has now scored an impressive 13 goals in 25 appearances, has run in near-perfect tandem with his good recent domestic form.
Ultimately, remaining a starter at Chelsea is crucial for Morata, and his future as a Spanish international. With direct competitor Diego Costa currently injured and goalless in his eight league games for Atletico Madrid, there has never been a better time for Morata to become an immovable object for both his national side and his club.