Real Madrid youth product Alvaro Morata moved from the Spanish capital to Turin this past summer with a hefty price tag that has received contrasting opinions. Stephen Ganavas talks about how Morata isn’t just an investment for the future but is more than capable of producing performances right away.
Alvaro Morata has been dealt his fair share of criticism after his €20m move to Juventus from Real Madrid in the summer, and while some of it has been warranted, the signs are that the Spanish striker has been another shrewd purchase from Juventus’ transfer director Giuseppe Marotta.
Morata has fitted in seamlessly in Turin, thanks in no small part to compatriot and mentor Fernando Llorente whom Morata has formed a close friendship with. Llorente has been a calming influence on Morata, always supporting him despite the fact that they are both vying for the same position alongside Carlos Tevez in Juventus’ 4-3-1-2. The city itself has allowed the young Spaniard to blend in with the rest of the squad without the added pressure he felt at home in Madrid. Morata has even remarked that he is able to go out into the city centre without any problems, something he never experienced in Madrid.
On the pitch his performances are finally starting to bear fruit, with some excellent performances in recent times, namely in Juventus’ recent 3-1 win over AC Milan in which the 22 year-old capped of a man of the match performances by scoring the Bianconeri’s third goal of the night. His late winner in the Coppa Italia Quarter-Final against Parma was also a defining moment of his season so far, with his composure highlighted as he mazed through the Parma defence before sliding the ball past the onrushing goalkeeper. Morata’s technical qualities have stood out, his dribbling is superb, and his movement in and around the box similarly effective. In Juventus’ line-up, probably only Paul Pogba is better in a one on one take-on situation.
Morata continues to work away at his game quietly, and while some of his early season performances drew ire from some Juve fans who baulked at the price their club paid for the starlet, he has shown glimpses of a player worth far more than what the club paid for him. Let’s face it though, his stats are ELITE. In the image pictured below, data from Twitter statistics guru @mixedknuts, indicate that Morata’s statistics at both Real Madrid, and now Juve, are up there with the best in the world in his position. While the sample size that is reflected below is fairly small, it still demonstrates that Morata’s price tag could in fact turn out to be a bargain, rather than a burden.
The upside is endless. His non-penalty goals rate is sensational, although it is inflated in some part by sub appearances. His key pass stats are similarly good, and his successful dribbles to dispossession rate is also fairly competent for the amount of dribbles he attempts. He even has a knack for sparking attacks, as demonstrated by his strong key passing numbers.
Morata is proving to be a far more competent partner to Tevez than the alternatives. Llorente continues to struggle in front of goals after a very strong 2013/14 season, and he is turning 30 later this month, so he is no longer a spring chicken by any means. Furthermore, the newly inbound Alessandro Matri is purely a depth player at this stage, while young Frenchman Kingsley Coman has only been used sparingly by Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri this campaign. There is finally a sense of surety in Morata’s game. It seems as if he will get the run of starts in a club’s first eleven for the first time in his career and he will be desperate to make a splash. It is well known the impact he can make as a substitute, but regularly effecting games as a starter is a totally different art – he will learn a lot from partnering the tenacious Tevez.
Alvaro Morata had the quality to become a world-beater. There is a reason why Real Madrid placed a buy-back clause within his contract. He just needs the faith of his team-mates, manager, and most importantly, Juventus fans. For Morata himself, goals are obviously of the greatest importance.
Some league games await that should allow Morata to perform in his role without added pressure, with Juventus’ seven point lead over rivals Roma providing some comfort in the league. Where it will be more interesting to see the young Spaniard play, is in the Champions League, where he did not really get a chance to contest the group stage all that often, except for a few times off the bench, making little impact in his 177 minutes of time on the field in six group matches. The tie against Dortmund will give him a chance to shine for the Bianconeri, who admittedly need a spark in Europe.
With a few more brilliant performances he could seal a role in Juventus’ starting eleven for a long time to come, but if he fails he could slide scarily close to the ‘flop’ category.
Written by Stephen Ganavas
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