In one of the biggest transfer sagas last summer, the uncertain future of Spanish striker Alvaro Morata had finally been settled.
The 25-year-old, who was in his second spell with La Liga giants Real Madrid, looked certain to leave following the end of the 2016-17 season after failing to hold down a regular starting place.
Rumours regarding his future were eventually put to bed, as he sealed a big money move to Premier League champions Chelsea, putting pen to paper on a five-year deal with the Stamford Bridge club.
The Blues, bankrolled by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, broke their transfer record with the signing of the 6ft 3in striker, surpassing the £50m figure paid for former forward Fernando Torres from Liverpool back in 2011.
Within a whisker of joining United
The Spaniard came within a whisker of joining Premier League rivals Manchester United, who were said to be linked with his signature for much of the summer, only for them to withdraw their interest.
The Red Devils instead turned their attention to signs towering Belgian Romelu Lukaku, who was heavily linked with a return to his former club prior to making the move to Old Trafford from Everton.
Despite being part of the squad that became the first to retain the Champions League trophy, Morata was very much a bit part player in his first season back at the Bernabeu after Madrid exercised a buy-back clause to re-sign their former striker from Serie A giants Juventus, whom Madrid sold him to back in 2014.
Seeking first team football
Often playing second fiddle to Karim Benzema for much of last season, Morata was used mainly as a substitute by Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane, achieving a goal tally of 20 despite limited game time.
The Spaniard left the Bernabeu in search of regular first team football, which landed him at Chelsea due to a falling out between Conte and striker Diego Costa, who is reportedly set to join Atletico Madrid.
Has he proven to be the right guy for Chelsea?
The striker linked up with his new teammates in their pre-season tour of Asia, having spoken highly of the club and his new manager, stating in a Sky Sports News interview that he was joining “The best club” in Chelsea.
Morata looks set to feature heavily in the plans of Antonio Conte, but the question remains, just how will he cope with the demands of the Premier League, and is he a suitable replacement for Diego Costa?
So far, the Spaniard has held his own and delivered some excellent performances, particularly against Stoke City and Manchester United. Morata has scored 10 goals and assisted 4 more in 18 Premier League appearances so far.
Impressive stats for a player enduring his first Premier League spell, especially as a lone striker succeeding one of the league’s most imposing forwards in Diego Costa. At 25 and with months remaining till the season concludes, expect more from this tenacious and clinical forward.
Written by Cristian Fry
Follow Cristian on Twitter @CristianF99
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