This has been a huge week of change at Juventus, the Italian champions still reeling from the stunning loss of their coach Antonio Conte. With news of his departure sending shockwaves across Europe, the situation has caused all transfer talks involving the Turin giants to grind to a halt.
Having lost Juan Iturbe to AS Roma, per the capital club’s official website, several other deals seriously stalled as various targets evaluated the value of joining the Bianconeri without their inspirational leader. However, both Patrice Evra and Alvaro Morata were convinced that La Madama can continue the dominance she has exerted over the last three years, with their moves confirmed earlier this week.
While the value of adding the French defender was expanded upon in greater detail here, the addition of the Real Madrid striker has yet to be fully explained. The 21-year-old had become a peripheral figure at the Santiago Bernabeu, the arrival of Gareth Bale reducing his expected role considerably last term.
Having joined Real Madrid from Getafe in 2008 and making his debut just two years later, Morata was seen as a major talent by the reigning European champions. Their official website describes him as “one of the most promising players from the Madrid youth academy,” yet he will now look to realise that potential in Turin.
With just three league starts to his name last term, it is easy to understand why the player believed his future lay elsewhere, although Juventus confirmed via the club website that Real have the option to buy him back in the future.
Speaking at his inaugural press conference with the Bianconeri, Morata revealed he had discussed the move with the new coach, telling Juventus.com he had “already spoken to [Massimiliano] Allegri and I’m itching to get started on the training ground.”
Sadly, he would suffer a tear to the medial collateral ligament in his left knee during his first training session, meaning his start to life in Italy is on hold for around 50 days, per a medical update on Juve’s official website.
When he finally does make his debut, Italy’s grand Old Lady will find she has unearthed quite a prospect, a forward capable of playing either as a central striker or on the flanks in a front three. Despite having his playing time limited in 2013-14, his statistical performance catches the eye when analysed in detail.
The Stats Bomb website, using Opta data, shows that his eight goals last term meant he found the back of the net at a staggering average of 1.29 times per 90 minutes. He accomplished that by combining a high number of shots (6.28 per 90 minutes, according to the same source) with a clinical conversion rate, highlighted by Squawka.com.
The above graphic shows a breakdown of his attempts, while the stats website shows he managed to get 69 per cent of his efforts on target. The same source shows that equated to a conversion rate of 22.9 per cent, a figure Squawka shows as higher than that of Carlos Tevez (20.7 per cent) last term.
His incredible stats for last term are supported by the numbers from his career to date, having netted 11 goals in 13 appearances for Spain’s under-19s and 13 in just 12 under-21 matches. The fact he was even part of the Real Madrid squad speaks volumes about his talent, and of the belief the club’s management had in their young striker.
The club can and regularly do purchase the finest players on the planet, yet they made room for Morata because he simply is that good. It is more than just his statistical output, as watching him for any length of time sees his ability quickly become apparent.
He possesses devastating acceleration, his speed able to take him beyond most defenders, and that is a quality Juventus sorely lacked in attack last term. Morata’s pace is a huge asset and will be yet another weapon for Allegri to bring the best from as he seeks to improve the club’s poor European record.
The Madrid native combines that with strength that belies his slender frame, and is rarely muscled off the ball, with WhoScored.com showing he was dispossessed just 12 times last term. At 6’ 3” he is a force to be reckoned with in the air, the same source showing he won 21 of the 30 aerial duels he contested in 2013-14.
More than just a target man however, Squawka shows he scored all but one goal last term with his right foot, but is more than capable with both. Spanish football expert Kay Murray, formerly of Real Madrid TV, described Morata last year as “good on both feet, capable of getting out into wider positions and drawing defenders out.”
It is clear Juventus have captured a talented youngster with the potential to become a truly excellent player. He will provide options that the club’s other strikers simply do not, while showing Real Madrid their error in allowing him to leave.