Alvaro Morata: Panic buy or a good signing for Chelsea?

As Alvaro Morata’s transfer to Chelsea was confirmed earlier this week, the question arises if the Spaniard is the right man for the Blues.

Morata cost Chelsea a fee in the region of £70m and it seems like boss Antonio Conte has finally found someone to lead the line for his team next season.

Conte made it clear that he was after a new top-class striker after informing Diego Costa that he was no longer part of his plans and was free to depart.

This was an unusual decision from Conte, considering Costa was Chelsea’s top-scorer in the 2016/17 season, as well as his goal-scoring form throughout his career with the Blues. However, Costa may have seen this coming as him and Conte have not always seen each other eye-to-eye.

In January 2017, they had a heated row, after which Costa was subsequently dropped from the first team. The striker was then the talk of a move to China, however this failed to materialise and Costa returned to the squad weeks later.


Lukaku, the prime target

Chelsea’s desire for a front-man was not a secret, with many believing that Romelu Lukaku was set to return to Stamford Bridge. This was stirred up more by Lukaku’s activity on social media.

The Belgian ‘followed’ a number of Chelsea players on instagram, while he also posted a video of him playing a game of five-a-side with the Chelsea badge present along the borders of the pitch.

Furthermore, Lukaku declared in early June that he had reached “an agreement” with another Premier League club, with the majority deeming the club to be Chelsea.

Chelsea were keen admirers of Lukaku though, and Conte made him his primary target. Those who work behind the scenes on transfers at Chelsea did not work swiftly enough as it emerged that Manchester United had agreed a deal with Everton for Lukaku’s services.

The Chelsea manager was then said to be furious at the prospect of missing out on Lukaku to a rival and as a result, the London club matched the Red Devils’ £75m offer for the centre-forward. This would be to no avail however, as Chelsea came in too late and United’s capture of Lukaku was confirmed.


Settling for Morata

After failing to acquire Lukaku, Chelsea intended to move promptly in order to sign a new striker.

Sergio Aguero was their next target, with reports suggesting that the Blues held a ‘strong and serious interest’ in signing the Manchester City star. City later responded by stating that the Argentine would not be sold. Chelsea accepted this and again moved on.

The London club were then left with a shortlist consisting of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Andrea Belotti and of course Alvaro Morata. Out of the trio, Gabon hitman Aubameyang was Chelsea’s next pursuit. Nothing materialised however, while Borussia Dortmund officials stated that Aubameyang would remain with the German club.

With Chelsea failing to acquire a number of targets and Antonio Conte slowly losing patience, a deal was agreed for Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata for around £70m. Conte was no doubt a frustrated man and may have used his aggravation in such failed transfers to in order to push through the deal for Morata.

This is indicated by the fact that Chelsea did not baulk at Real Madrid’s asking price of £70m, unlike Manchester United who offered £52.4m for the Spaniard although it was rejected. The Red Devils did not rate him as worthy of a £70m price tag.

Chelsea, inside, may have also believed the fee to be slightly excessive. However, with Conte not accepting another unsuccessful transfer, there is a case for the Italian to be guilty of ‘panic buying’.


Hoping for a more positive impact from the Spaniard

The transfer of Morata springs to mind another striker Chelsea paid big money for – Fernando Torres.

Particularly as he is also Spanish, while he also donned the number nine jersey which Morata is set to wear. Torres’s career at Stamford Bridge was not as successful as many had wished, while Chelsea supporters will hope Morata will break the recent curse of the jersey.

Blues fans long for a firing forward and will hope Morata has enjoys success similar to previous number nines such as Gianluca Vialli and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and unlike the recent jersey-wearers such as Radamel Falcao and of course Torres.

Although Morata has scored goals wherever he has been, he has not been entirely prolific. In the 2016/17 season however, he netted 20 times in 43 appearances, in which he appeared second-choice to Karim Benzema; an impressive return.


Must fire on all cylinders from the go

Currently, Manchester United’s signing of Lukaku seems the better option out of the two simply because he has experience in the Premier League.

Morata, like Lukaku, has age on his side and can improve under Conte, while he also possesses all the attributes to become a top centre-forward.

It remains to be seen what category of Chelsea centre-forward Morata will fit into, however the Spaniard will have to fire on all cylinders straight away in order to prove worthy of his price tag, such is the nature of the Premier League.


Written by Dawud Arshad

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