After Real Madrid officially announced that they had activated the buy-back clause in Alvaro Morata’s Juventus contract, the 23-year-old staked his claim to be Euro 2016’s top goal-scorer in his national team’s 1-2 defeat to Croatia.

Madrid’s motives in bringing back their former striker are unclear as of yet, but there has been talk of another sale in order to make a profit on a player who is definitely in demand, and could be even more so come the end of the tournament he is currently participating in. 

After Spain’s opening game against Czech Republic, there were worries that Morata was not the right man to lead the line for his country at an international tournament, with multiple chances missed. Despite another trophy-laden season in Turin, he was not an automatic starter for Massimiliano Allegri, as the Italian Coach preferred the partnership of Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala. Credit must go to the man who started off his career with Atletico Madrid though, as he scored vital goals to win the Coppa Italia and help Juve into the latter stages of the Champions League. 

“It was tough this year going three months without a single goal and it was a very difficult time for me a whole lot of reasons,” admitted Morata. “I’d split up from my girlfriend, my family had some problems and I was carrying an injury that most people didn’t know about, an inflammation of the groin.”

Morata is used to scoring crucial goals, and that is exactly what he has started doing on a regular basis for La Roja. Firstly, there were two in the 3-0 win over Turkey, which was a perfect game for him to regain some much-needed confidence against a rather lacklustre side. It was immediately clear after that first goal that Morata had put his woes behind him – he was suddenly assured and very effective whenever he got on the ball, and any worries about him not being able to fulfil the centre-forward role for Spain seemed to be cast aside.

It only took him seven minutes to grab his third in France against Croatia, and he showed his ability to be a poacher as he finished off another brilliant move to get on the end of Cesc Fabregas’ chip. With the creative players at Vicente del Bosque’s disposal, Morata was always going to get chances. It was the small matter of converting those chances, and now that he is, La Roja finally have an in-form striker spearheading their attack.

Few other strikers seem to be scoring regularly in the tournament, though on-fire Will Grigg is yet to feature, so the man from the capital is definitely a contender for the Golden Boot at Euro 2016.  

This is a major positive for Del Bosque, but Spain’s complacent second half performance against Croatia is sure to send shivers down his spine. After surrendering their 0-1 lead, Ivan Perisic’s late winner saw the Croats finish top of the group and it now means that Spain will face fellow Euro 2012 finalists Italy in the first knockout stage of the competition. On top of that, they could now face Germany and France if they beat the Italians.

Morata’s goals will be absolutely crucial for La Roja to find their way through this tricky passage to the latter stages of the tournament.