Last summer, if you had told an Arsenal fan they would be leading the Premier League going into the new year, they would have asked you exactly how hard you banged your head.
Despite a summer of uncertainty and negativity fueled by a lack of spending—eventually satiated in September with the purchase of Mesut Ozil—the Gunners have an excellent chance of lifting the trophy they last touched a decade ago.
However, it is clear they need more firepower to keep this assault on top of the league going forward. The burden on Olivier Giroud must be lifted, Theo Walcott won't be around to help and it can be argued that neither Lukas Podolski nor Nicklas Bendtner are not up to the job.
Plenty of potential signings have been mooted, but in this writer's opinion, one stands head and shoulders above the rest—figuratively and literally. It's Real Madrid's Alvaro Morata, who stands 6'3".
The 21-year-old Spaniard has been on Los Blancos' books since he was sixteen, but according to John Drayton of the Daily Mail, he is willing to fly the coup in search of more first-team opportunities:
It's important to have a proper role in the team. I've been at Real Madrid my whole life, and I've been a Real Madrid fan since I was a boy. I will be all my life, but it's important to have an important role.
If the moment comes that I don't, I will look at other options. Staying at Real Madrid is complicated.
Playing five or 10 minutes is okay if you accept it. You have the chance to get on the pitch and try to change a game in a short space of time. Every minute in football is gold.
With pace, exceptional movement and an eye for goal, Morata is the answer to Arsenal's potential problems. It is criminal that he has only started one league game for Madrid this season, and thanks to the Spanish side's predilection for importing wingers and strikers, he may never get a fair crack of the whip at the Bernabeu.
Morata first caught the world's attention in the Spanish Primera Clasico on March 2 last season. Making only his second appearance for the first-team, the striker needed only six minutes to set up the opening goal against Madrid's fabled rivals. Later, he hit the side netting and created a slew of other excellent opportunities.
In his first-team debut the month before against Rayo Vallecano, he needed only three minutes to score the opener. His first goal for the full-team came against Levante in November 2012, when he scored 30 seconds after coming on as a substitute.
Clearly, Morata finds the net, and he finds it fast!
Since that Clasico, when he was probably the best player on the pitch, he has been flitting between the first-team squad and Castilla in the Segunda Division, where he has bagged 45 goals in 83 appearances thus far.
Morata has played at virtually every level with Madrid. After a few youth seasons with Atletico Madrid and nearby Getafe, he joined Real's Juvenil A in 2008. There, his coach, Sergio Pina, immediately saw his talent, comparing his aerial threat with Fernando Morientes but insisting he was even better than the three-time Champions League winner with his feet (via El Pais's Eleonora Giovio, source in Spanish).
He helped Juvenil A win the youth title in 2009-10 with 34 goals, (via Marca's Hugo Cerezo, source in Spanish) before graduating to the C and B sides in 2010.
In 2012, his precocious talents were spotted by Jose Mourinho, who took him on the full-squad's preseason tour of the U.S. In the first game against LA Galaxy, he came on in the second half and scored.
He has represented the Spanish national team at U17, U18, U19 and U21 level. At the European U21 Championships over the summer, he won the Golden Boot award with four goals. Surely, a full call-up to the national side beckons in the not-too-distant future.
Real Madrid's academy has produced plenty of exceptional talent in recent years—Dani Carvajal, Jese and Jose Rodriguez, to name a few—but Morata seems destined for greatness.
Besides his talent, the biggest attraction for Arsene Wenger will be his price tag. The aforementioned Daily Mail article asserts that his loan fee will be just £1.7 million. According to Transfermarkt, his market value is only €12 million. If a loan move was successful, that is the kind of investment upon which Wenger could definitely make a return.
Arsenal appear to have two stumbling blocks to the acquisition of Morata. Carlo Ancelotti has claimed no one will be coming or going from Madrid in this window (via Sky Sports), and according to James Dickenson of The Express, Liverpool is also interested in his services.
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