His decision came as a total shock. Following Real Madrid’s comprehensive 4-2 win against Osasuna in what was Jose Mourinho’s final match in charge, Gonzalo Higuain calmly declared his desire to search for pastures new, effectively bringing to an end six-and-a-half years at the Santiago Bernebeu, during which he scored an impressive 122 goals in 266 outings.
One of the questions to follow on from his decision and the increasing links with Arsenal and Juventus has been: ‘Who will replace Higuain at Madrid?’
Understandably, the club may decide to continue on with their Galactico policy, with Uruguyan duo Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani both seemingly ready to move this summer, but if the club are indeed in search of an alternative, then a cheaper one in Alvaro Morata may be the answer. He is the Galactico antithesis.
Despite previously being a squad member of Atletico Madrid’s youth side, his move to Real Madrid’s Juvenil A and promotion through to the Castilla side, has since proven to be a fruitful one, drawing comparisons to club legend Fernando Morientes, mainly because of his aerial prowess, clinical finishing and excellent movement.
Last season even saw the youngster prove a great asset to Jose Mourinho, who turned to him more than once in a season that Karim Benzema and Higuain otherwise struggled with consistency in. The 20-year-old played a total of 581 minutes across 15 first-team appearances, starting on seven occasions and notched up two goals in the process. His most memorable performance came when brought on in the 83rd minute against Levante in November, when he scored after just 60 seconds on the pitch, helping the side to an otherwise undeserved victory.
Meanwhile, his stats for Castilla last season also remained impressive to say the least. Morata managed to rack up 12 goals in 18 fixtures at a strike rate of 0.66 goals a match.
However it has been his performances for La Rojita this summer that have thrust him into the spotlight, albeit reluctantly. Three times the striker has come off the bench to score for Spain during their run to the UEFA Under-21 Championship, with goals against Russia – on his debut – and Germany proving winners too.
Coupled with a goal in his only start against the Netherlands to make it four from his first four appearances for the national side at this level, Morata has reportedly seen Madrid take note.
As Marca reported: ‘The club is giving serious thought to not replacing the outgoing Higuain and instead putting faith in the youth product to serve as Benzema’s understudy, with Cristiano Ronaldo also able to fill in up front’.
Although the club cannot guarantee a starring role next season, Morata has also expressed his desire in staying at the club. No matter what lies ahead, the script could not have been written any better. Morata possesses a potential for assets that Higuain himself cannot boast of, and Real Madrid must be careful in their decision making. As for now, the future is bright, the future is Morata.