There is no doubt that Alvaro Morata did not live up to expectations when Atletico Madrid splashed over €50m on the then Chelsea forward. But the lofty hopes set on him them look as if they are now within his capabilities.
Morata struggled to get the job done at Chelsea as their big money signing, but after six goals in the second half of the season on loan at Los Colchoneros, it was decided that he was the man for the job. However Morata would only find 13 goals in the whole of next campaign, despite much more game time, and his unreliability in front of goal cost him the trust of Diego Simeone.
Hence he was loaned out to Juventus for two seasons, where he would again reach similiar numbers – 31 goals across the two campaigns. On his return to Madrid, he did manage 15 goals without being a guaranteed starter, but for many he remained a lottery when the moment of truth came. Online gaming peaks with Casino Kingdom but trying to predict which version of Morata would appear drove many fans to frustration.
Yet through all of this, Massimiliano Allegri and Spain manager at the time Luis Enrique maintained faith in Morata, backing him when many others wouldn’t. Morata has since admitted that he went through tough spells with his mental health, having a tough time with the criticism, and even wondering if football was the profession for him in his late twenties.
Since, it appears Morata has put those battles behind him, and this season at any rate, he is exhibiting a confidence and consistency that would suggest that as much. In the Champions League, Morata is the top scorer with five goals, and overall he has 12 in 16 appearances. Add in his three assists and Morata is contributing directly to nearly a goal a game.
Now 31, assured and seemingly enjoying both the game and his life again, Morata has made the number nine spot his own, as Memphis Depay continues to battle injury. If Morata can prove that this is not just form, within the usual variation of performance, it makes Atletico a serious contender in La Liga, and an uncomfortable prospect for any opponent in Europe. With arguably the best player in La Liga supplying him in Antoine Griezmann, Morata might be the elite forward Atletico thought they were signing in 2019, four years later.
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