Sunday, August 9, 2020

Making Sense Of Alvaro Morata’s Arrival To Atletico Madrid

Juan Pablo Aravena in Editorial, La Liga 29 Jan 2019

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One of the biggest stories during the January Transfer Window had relation with Alvaro Morata. The Spain international was completely out of favour at Chelsea, and it was clear he needed a change of scenery. That was the only scenario where we would have been able to gain some much-needed playing time. Things got so bad that Maurizio Sarri chose to deploy Eden Hazard as a ‘False 9’ instead of playing Morata upfront.

Morata, who had previously played for Real Madrid and Juventus, began looking for a new home as soon as the January window opened. Morata had chances to join both Sevilla and FC Barcelona, as he made it clear he wanted to return to Spain. And while he accomplished that, it was another team that signed him. His destination was a bit surprising since he joined Atletico Madrid.

The 26-year-old striker joined Los Colchoneros on an 18-month loan, meaning he will be with Atletico until the end of the 2019-20 season. That’s enough time to settle down, fight for a starting spot and, in the worst-case scenario, it gives Chelsea enough time to figure out what they want to do with Morata. The Spaniard is under contract with The Blues until June 2022, but there’s a big chance he doesn’t play another minute for the Stamford Bridge outfit in his career.

However, he isn’t a “perfect fit”. So, let’s try to analyse what Atletico will win when adding Morata into their current squad. One that already has several interesting options for the attacking third.

What will Morata add to Atletico Madrid?

By now, everybody knows the kind of player Morata is. The former Real Madrid academy star – who spent time on Atletico’s youth sides when he was still a kid – is the prototypical striker who seems to be in extinction right now. Despite being technically gifted and fast enough for the position, Morata thrives as a classic number nine. One who can win aerial duels and play between the centre-backs.

On paper, that sounds quite good considering Atletico features mobile attackers such as Antoine Griezmann, Angel Correa and even Thomas Lemar if needed. However, Morata is not going to be a “game-changing” player for Atletico. If anything, he possesses similar traits to Diego Costa and Nikola Kalinic; two players that are already on Diego Simeone’s first-team picture.

Sure, he adds another goal-scoring threat. But it would be an excess to say he is giving the team something they were currently lacking.

What are Morata’s chances to gain regular, consistent playing time?

This is a tough question. Obviously, Simeone is quite fond of Morata; otherwise, he wouldn’t have been open to the idea of adding him on an 18-month loan deal. But it does not look as if he’s going to be a plug-and-play starter. Right now, all signs indicate Morata will compete with Diego Costa for a starting role alongside Griezmann.

Things could get easier if Kalinic leaves the side on loan, which seems to be Atletico’s idea right now. Keeping the Croatian, Morata, Costa, Griezmann, Correa… it would be too many players for only two starting spots. Either case, it seems Morata will rotate as a starter with Costa. But will reportedly get “every single chance” to win the starting role, pushing Costa to a back-up position.

It’s a win-win situation for both Chelsea and Atletico Madrid

Both Chelsea and Atletico Madrid should be happy with how things turned out. The Blues wanted to get out of the Spaniard since he was becoming a distraction. And Atletico wanted to bolster their attack. Simeone wanted someone who could fight with – and hopefully, push to a new extreme to – Diego Costa, who hasn’t been having a very good season.

Only time will tell how things will work out. But at least on paper, Morata made the right call on joining Atletico. Now it depends on him to be successful.


Juan Pablo Aravena

A freelance writer and sports analyst with almost five years of experience in the industry before joining SoccerNews, Juan Pablo Aravena is based in Chile and currently contributes to several publications and websites including SoccerNews, 12up, and Sports From The Basement, while also working as a fantasy beat writer for RotoWire, as a database editor for EA Sports, and as a football analyst for SmartOdds and InsideFutbol. His areas of focus are Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, LaLiga, and Ligue 1, but he has also written about MLS and South American football in the past.



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