Alvaro Morata - Much ado about nothing?
The future of Alvaro Morata has been subject to intense speculation with almost every top club across Europe having been linked to the Spanish hitman’s signature. The likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are just few of the clubs interested in Morata and with Real Madrid most likely to exercise the buy-back option, it is certain that the Spaniard’s future will certainly be a topic of hot discussion in the summer.
While Morata is largely hailed as one of the best young strikers in the world at the moment, is the hype about the Spaniard justified? A cursory look into Morata’s stats might paint a surprising picture. In 145 total appearances for both Real Madrid and Juventus, the Spaniard has only managed a measly return of 38 goals. Also, the young forward has failed to net more than 10 League goals in a single season so far and there are some serious doubts about his decision making and goalscoring abilities.
However, Morata’s game is so much more than just goals. A versatile forward capable of playing competitively anywhere across the forward line, Morata is a type of player who gives the manager plenty of options. He can play as a solo striker, support forward and on the wings as well. He also has an excellent knack of performing on the big stage and he has already scored some extremely vital goals in his short career.
The positive qualities of the Spanish forward are rather noteworthy. Blessed with significant sprinting speed, good ball control and excellent athleticism, Morata is one of the most dangerous strikers when he is allowed to run into open space. His assist for Juan Cuadrado in the Champions League against Bayern Munich was a thing of beauty and it is in such occasions, we see why the Spaniard is so highly valued and rated.
The talented young Spaniard has been at his best during cup matches having scored in the Champions League quarter-finals, semis, finals last season and in the Coppa Italia final against AC Milan this season. In high-pressure situations, Morata has always delivered and this particular quality has the world’ top managers and clubs chasing after his signature.
However, Morata is no where near being a finished product. The Spaniard played 42 games for Juventus last season with 22 appearances coming off the bench. For all his qualities, Allegri still preferred Dybala and Mandzukic up front and it is due to some of the glaring weaknesses in the young forward's game.
For all his impressive good qualities, Morata has failed to be a prolific goalscorer for either club or country. While his runs into the box are good, his decision-making in the final third is often suspect and he lacks the clinical edge of a natural finisher. He also gets caught offside plenty of times, showing that he really needs to improve his tactical side of the game. Morata also struggles when his back is to the goal and some of his most insipid performances have come when he has played as the lone striker up front.
While many have compared him to Karim Benzema, the Frenchman is currently at a much higher level and Benzema’s link play is also simply exemplary. Morata has plenty of positive qualities, but his lack of composure and clinical finishing prevent him from being the complete striker.
Morata likes to play with a striking partner and he is at his best when he has the space to run into. When opposition defenses are well organized and sit deep, Morata looks very ineffectual and struggles to make any impact on the game.
While Morata is undoubtedly one of the best young strikers in the world right now, he is not yet quite the finished product and with clubs ready to pay close to £50 million to secure his services, Morata might not do enough to justify such a high fee.
At 23, Morata is at an interesting crossroads in his career and it will be fascinating to see where Morata plies his trade next season.