When Real Madrid allowed Gonzalo Higuain to leave for Napoli last August, all focus was on the arrival of Gareth Bale. Los Blancos were rumoured to have one eye on Liverpool's Luis Suarez, but it transpired that the admiring glances were coming more from the player than the club due to the striker's price tag. Despite him signing a new contract recently, Madrid are unlikely to be deterred this summer and may launch a bid for the Uruguayan.
This meant Karim Benzema would no longer be rotated; as the solitary senior forward, he had the chance to make the position his own and not have to worry about being dropped. This can lead to complacency, but in fairness to the Frenchman he has responded well and his finishing record is not too dissimilar to that of last season.
With this in mind, it was expected that Alvaro Morata would get more playing time, though it hasn't quite worked out that way. The 21-year-old has started only one game this season, which was against Malaga, featuring from the bench on 11 different occasions in all competitions. The problem for Morata is that he has been overtaken in the pecking order by Jese Rodriguez, six months his junior.
A fortnight after scoring the final goal in a 5-0 win at Almeria, Morata remarked, "I feel that the boss really trusts me, so does [Ancelotti's assistant Zinedine] Zidane, all of the coaching staff and the club," via The Metro. But that match itself gave a small suggestion of change. Jese had arrived on the pitch for Cristiano Ronaldo eight minutes before Morata replaced Benzema. The two assists registered by Jese might just have lasted longer in the memory.
Since the end of November, Morata has played in only nine minutes of action. Meanwhile, Jese seems to be going from strength to strength, scoring a rather fortunate winner versus Valencia in the final match before the winter break, then playing in half an hour of the first game back and creating the opener for Benzema, and then starting and scoring in the Copa del Rey against Osasuna. His substitute appearance in the game with Espanyol during the weekend was telling, with Morata firmly rooted to his seat.
Both players can operate out on the wings and maybe Ancelotti feels that Jese is best suited to deputise for the likes of Bale. "We have not changed our plan, furthermore, Morata has not asked to leave. I am very happy with him," the Italian reiterated last week, as reported by Dermot Corrigan of ESPN.
With multiple options in the attacking positions behind the striker and Ronaldo also capable of playing as a forward, Madrid should let Morata go to Arsenal for the next few months. When you play with one striker and occasionally two, it's not necessary to stockpile young talent on the sidelines.
Morata would get more time on the pitch considering the injury to Theo Walcott and Nicklas Bendtner's far from convincing play. The Spanish U21 international is good in the air and a more than adept finisher. It would be a good experience for the player, and with a number of countrymen in London already, he would be unlikely to get homesick.
At his age he needs be involved more than he has been during the last six weeks. He would still not be a starter, unless Oliver Giroud picked up a knock, but he would be the perfect replacement when needed. There will come a time when Giroud will need a rest or even to share the burden of providing goals when a drought inevitably happens. The move would be good business all-round—unfortunately Ancelotti doesn't share Wenger's wisdom on this one.
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