Alvaro Morata- one step forward, two steps back
Written by: Anjishnu Roy
The 26-year-old has scored a measly seven goals in all competitions for Chelsea this season.
Apparently, Alvaro Morata is on his back way to Atlético de Madrid, the very first club where he dreamt about being a professional footballer for the first time after suffering a torrid time in North London with Chelsea FC. And just like that, his career is on the verge of coming full circle and from what we’ve seen of Morata so far, it raises more questions than answers.
The prospect of returning to Atletico on a loan must feel bittersweet for Alvaro, for it was here where he spent his days working on his football and the nights as a ball boy at the erstwhile Vicente Calderon while it was also the same institution that made Morata feel unwanted and lonely and so he had to seek another safe haven for his dreams.
Real Madrid answered the call and since then, Morata’s journey to almost the very top of world football has been quite a peculiar enigma- it seems that for every step his career has taken forwards, it has also taken two in the backwards direction.
Can he succeed at Atletico Madrid now?
Ever since bursting onto the scene with Real Madrid- quite literally, he almost scored from his first touch on his Real Madrid debut, Morata’s has been a case of failure of living upto promise and expectations. Jose Mourinho handed him his first taste of action in the top flight as an 18-year-old in a game against Real Zaragoza at the 89th minute.
Morata broke free of the Zaragoza defence a minute after his introduction but his shot which was practically his first touch of the game was parried away to safety by the keeper- a fitting metaphor for Morata’s career.
Morata did relatively well in his job as a backup for Cristiano, Benzema and Higuain but it wasn’t convincing enough for the Madrid management and they sold him for 20 million euros with a buyback option to the Old Lady in Italy. And it was at Juventus where Morata revelled and promised world-class potentials.
In his first season with the Bianconeri, he pushed Fernando Llorente out of the starting XI and hit his stride effortlessly over the course of the season. He scored several goals that year, including the knockout stages of the Champions League. He infamously scored the goal at the Santiago Bernabeu that knocked Real Madrid out of the competition and held his hands high after scoring, almost apologising to the Bernabeu crowd.
He scored once again, in the final of the competition and against FC Barcelona. This time, he would celebrate wildly after levelling up the score but it proved to be nothing but a consolation in a final that Juventus would lose 3-1.
In his second season, even greater things were expected of him but he failed to live upto the standards he set in the previous one and gave manager Massimiliano Allegri room to complain about. Morata didn’t quite seem to realise the burden of responsibility laid on him as the club’s first choice number 9 and failed to shoulder it well. News of him having a tough and lonely time off the pitch also broke out at this time and Sid Lowe mentioned that on more than one occasions, club legend Gianluigi Buffon would console the young Morata who would break down in the physio’s room.
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Real Madrid would activate their buyback option on Morata in the following season and bring him home to play as a backup again, this time to the Bale-Benzema-Cristiano trio. He would score decisive goals for Real as the club secured its first league title since 2012 and another Champions League crown. Morata found the back of the net 15 times in 14 starts and while, replacing either of the BBC trio or even Isco in the frontline would be a case of pushing above his weight for Morata, the Madrid hierarchy once again didn’t find him worth holding onto. An offer of 60 million euros would be too hard for Madrid to resist and Morata was offloaded again, this time to England.
Six goals in his first six appearances. While life in North London would start in an exceedingly wonderful manner, Morata would soon fall off the perch and his career would lose its way. Morata went from being a starter to not even a figure on the bench and the only presence of him was on social media- in memes and trolls.
And it goes without saying that Morata must seize the opportunity of a temporary move to Simeone’s Atletico Madrid and while life and career comes full circle for Alvaro, he would most certainly that Cholo Simeone does what he is known for: to inject a forward momentum to Morata’s efforts and make it count and revive his career.
Published: Tue Jan 29, 2019 03:46 PM IST