World Cup Squad Selector: Morata

The sheer presence of young striker Alvaro Morata in the Real Madrid squad on a regular basis says an awful lot about his talent and future potential. At a club where anything less than the very best is simply not tolerated, and where instant success is a must, Los Blancos Coaches are understandably reluctant to put their jobs on the line to nurture young prospects through that natural early period of inconsistency while they find their feet.

This is especially true of the attacking positions, but the 21-year-old’s sheer weight in goals, both for Castilla and the first team when selected, have made him impossible to ignore. Born and bred in Madrid, as a youngster Morata spent time on the books at both Atletico Madrid and Getafe, where his performances attracted the interest of the nine-time European champions. At the age of 15, he completed the switch to the club’s famed La Fabrica academy, where he began to make his way up through the ranks.

His prolific goal-scoring meant that it took him only two years to earn promotion to Castilla, where at the tender age of 17 he established himself as a regular starter playing in Spain’s second tier. The La Roja set-up were equally impressed and, two years ahead of his age, Morata was already playing international football at U19 level. A first team debut in December 2010 followed as he came on as a substitute during a 3-1 win away at Real Zaragoza.

While he made only one more La Liga appearance before the end of the 2011/12 season, 44 goals in three seasons playing for Castilla meant Morata was never too far from the thoughts of the first team coaching staff. It has only been this season however that he has become even a regular on the substitute’s bench, and while he remains only 21-years-old it seems a lack of opportunities have already forced him to look for a move elsewhere.

The realisation that he is highly unlikely to break into Los Blancos’ expensively assembled and almost ludicrously talented front three of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema anytime soon has hit home, meaning the longer Morata hangs around in Madrid the greater the fear will become that his highly promising career to date will go unrewarded. He has been heavily linked with a host of top clubs around Europe, who would be only too happy to give him the extended first team run that he both craves and deserves but is unlikely to get if he stays at Santiago Bernabeu.

Speaking of missed opportunities, there is every chance this will be the case for Morata on the biggest stage of them all this summer. With the plethora of richly talented players at his disposal, it would make little sense for Vicente Del Bosque to risk taking a player to Brazil who, despite never having been given a real chance to prove himself, is untried as a leading striker at the top level.

With Del Bosque having been known in the past to line-up with no out and out centre forward at all, it takes a leap of faith to imagine he will take more than three or four with him in the squad to defend his World Cup crown. The likes of Diego Costa, Alvaro Negredo and Pedro are all infinitely more experienced and have a proven ability to produce the goods when it matters.

As such, it would not be remotely surprising if Morata is overlooked this time around. His young age means he will get more chances for his country, but in order to be in the best position to take them he has to be playing as a regular starter. The Bernabeu exit door beckons.