News coming out of Spain this week suggests Real Madrid forward Alvaro Morata is prepared to turn down the advances of Tottenham to join Arsenal in a six-month loan deal from January, reported by Nick Lustig of the Daily Star.
Arsene Wenger attempted to calm the story at Tuesday's press conference, per the Mirror's John Cross, but in such a competitive market it will be no surprise if his latest denial was an attempt to keep the deal under wraps, as hinted at by Bleacher Report UK guest columnist Guillem Balague:
#afc Wenger denies loan deal for Real Madrid starlet Alvaro Morata. "There's no truth in that, not been in touch."— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) December 3, 2013
Morata: Wenger wants him. He contacted player's agents. Player happy to go to Arsenal on loan but.... Real Madrid don't want to let him go— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) December 3, 2013
Should Morata eventually be handed the choice of the two North London clubs, the 21-year-old will make an excellent decision by joining the Gunners.
Arsenal and Tottenham have performed as polar opposites this season. Wenger's men, sitting atop the Premier League and playing devastating attacking football, have impressed ever since the opening-day loss to Aston Villa (bar the tight defeat to Manchester United).
Spurs, for all of their £100 million summer dealings, have succumbed to home losses against West Ham and Newcastle, racking up a measly 11 goals across 13 games, per WhoScored.com.
These instances won't necessarily matter for Morata, whose potential loan spell would be about making an impact and learning his trade with different teammates.
At Arsenal, he has a decent chance of gaining silverware and would leapfrog Nicklas Bendtner as the club's most important forward behind Olivier Giroud, who is sure to need a rest before the campaign comes to a close.
At Spurs, he is likely to battle for a Europa League spot. He has little chance of hoisting himself above Roberto Soldado—who is proving to be an out-of-form, yet undroppable rival for Jermain Defoe—and will be forced to settle into a system that doesn't necessarily suit the strengths of his game.
Despite only starting one match for Los Blancos this season, Morata has outlined why he is such a top prospect across the past year. The Spaniard is tall, powerful, possesses decent pace and is capable of creative magic with the ball at this feet, but he needs teammates within his vicinity to shine.
Morata can hold the ball up well, but as hinted at in his Bernabeu performances, he doesn't work at his full potential when leading an attacking trident that features two wingers, something Spurs have forced into their play this year.
Instead, he is far more impactful when energetic midfielders bounce around his position, as we saw with his record six-goal haul during Spain's Under-19s European Championship win of 2011, per UEFA. Two years after this, he also managed to claim the Golden Boot in a similar system during Spain's Under-21 triumph, also reported by UEFA.
Which team should Morata opt to join on loan?
He is used to playing with technical teammates, those who can hold onto the ball, pass to feet and immediately burst into space. Aaron Ramsey's rise as an Arsenal hero sees the Welshman playing tiki-taka in the style of Thiago Alcantara, the influence of Santi Cazorla et all rubbing off across the team.
At White Hart Lane, the impressive youngster wouldn't receive the same kind of support. The striking job at Spurs is very much the lone role, as Soldado often appears to be the sole knight charging into battle while his archers flank from a faraway hill.
There is little unity between the midfield and attack; if Soldado becomes isolated because his teammates can't create chances or support his runs, he is demonised for a poor performance.
This is not something that should appeal to Morata, who needs to be working in a system that blurs the central and offensive lines.
His development as a player will advance if he is forced into an Arsenal lineup that boasts a terrific team ethic and, in all honesty, an array of stars who continuously have to perform out of their skin to receive recognition.
Rewind one year and it's likely you'll find a headline slating Giroud or Ramsey for their poor play. So much was made about Robin van Persie's departure: How would Arsenal replace their world-class star? With hard-work, determination and the realisation that any team can be greater than the sum of its parts.
For Morata, this kind of philosophy represents everything he needs at this stage of his career.