Juventus coach Antonio Conte is adding another workhorse to his stable of fine breeds.
The deal for Alvaro Morata is all but official, a four-year, €22 million move to Juventus from Real Madrid, according to Marca. And he is the perfect player to compliment Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez.
Morata is almost a combination of both those players, a versatile forward who can make his own plays and finish them off. Of course Conte pushed hard to get the 21-year-old: Morata could be the player that unlocks Champions League success.
There is a sense that Conte will abandon the 3-5-2 formation in Europe and play with a back-four. That would allow the team to take shape in a 4-3-3 formation, and Morata, while technically a striker, could even play on the wing.
He is that mobile, that capable of playmaking. Morata is an unpredictable player, difficult to track, with the finishing instincts of Llorente and the ruthless spirit of Tevez. Morata can pick up the ball from his own half and make darting runs. He can hold off defenders and do little tricks to get out of tight spaces. He can skip past defenders and draw fouls and find space in the box.
Juventus lacked a player with this kind of dynamism. Arturo Vidal is the only other player on the Juventus roster that can shift positions so quickly during the game; Morata does that well. Sometimes we can forget that, at 6’3’’, he is also a great header of the ball. His game is almost complete, and he still has time to grow.
Morata is also another player Real Madrid have sold without truly realizing his potential. Madrid do that a lot. They gave up on Arjen Robben, on Wesley Sneijder, on Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, on Jose Callejon, on Gonzalo Higuain and now on Alvaro Morata.
Marca does report that there is a €30-million buy-back clause in the contract that would allow Madrid to reclaim the player. That is some consolation, and while it does suggest that Morata has a lot to prove, there is also a sense that Real Madrid are not yet ready to lose the player. He promises a lot.
He only started six games in all competitions with Madrid last season, earning most of his minutes off the bench, and yet he still scored nine goals.
But the statistics are deceiving. Morata has played and scored in El Clasico. He featured in the Champions League final. He has experience in the big games.
A move to Wolfsburg or Villarreal—the other two clubs that tabled offers—would do nothing for Morata. He needs a big test; he needs the faith of a big-time manager like Conte. He has already served his apprenticeship with Real Madrid’s B team and with Spain’s youth team. Morata won the under-21 UEFA European Championship as the tournament’s top scorer.
Carlo Ancelotti was willing to let Morata develop elsewhere, and that is a mark of a great manager. It would be a disappointment if Morata did not start regularly at Juventus. He is excited, and, as he told Marca, he “can’t wait” to get to know the city.