Once again rumours are gathering pace that Alvaro Morata’s future at Real Madrid is dangling over a cliff’s edge.
Some will point out that we’ve been here before.
Last summer the 21-year-old was regularly linked with moves across the continent; that was followed up with a splurge of stories in January also suggesting he’d leave the Bernabeu.
Now Sami Mokbel of The Daily Mail is reporting that Arsenal have flown representatives to Madrid to finalise a deal for the Spain U21 international, while Spanish language newspaper AS, per Sky Italia, say Juventus are also in the race for Morata’s signature.
Madrid are lucky that there still appears so much interest in their forward and, if Morata was a share on the stock exchange, it would be advisable to sell while his reputation is still fairly high.
On the face of things, he’s not had a bad season.
In just three league starts—plus 20 appearances as a substitute—he scored eight goals for Los Blancos, although five of those goals came in wins of four goals or more, often the last one as well.
He did score two on the final day of the season in a 3-1 win against Espanyol and his late equaliser against Levante, followed by Cristiano Ronaldo’s even later winner, was one of the highlights of an action-packed season of domestic football in Spain.
Also fighting his corner is the fact that he’s an academy product—kind of.
He joined Real Madrid in 2008 at the age of 15 having previously spent time with Getafe and, like Madrid legend Raul Gonzalez, Atletico Madrid.
After being forced to suffer in the success of Barcelona’s home-grown side for the last six seasons, Madrid fans had grown desperate for some of their own youngsters to come of age in the first team.
For that reason, hope was placed in Morata to be that man.
However, while everything was invested in Morata, Jese Rodriguez was growing into an even better player and but for a season-ending injury, would be comfortably ahead of Morata in the pecking order by now.
At best it looks like Morata could perhaps leave the club and develop into another Roberto Soldado or Alvaro Negredo—two strikers who weren’t deemed up to it in the Spanish capital in recent years.
And while that means he can still forge a successful career for himself at the top level of European football, it also means that he doesn’t quite have the quality to hang around at the Bernabeu for much longer.
He has rarely looked, bar one highly motivated performance against Atletico at the end of the 2012/13 season and the occasional goal, like a player with the ability to sandwich Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in Madrid’s front three.
So Real Madrid should let him go and play football elsewhere—somewhere he will benefit by starting more than three league games a season.
While he has his youth, he still has his value; if Carlo Ancelotti keeps him hanging around another season kicking his heels on the bench then the price tag potential suitors are willing to pay will only decrease.