Maurizio Sarri: 'Quality' Alvaro Morata 'Hurt' by Chelsea Struggles

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2018

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 04: Alvaro Morata of Chelsea during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on November 4, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri says Alvaro Morata has been "hurt" by the struggles he has gone through at Stamford Bridge, but the Italian defended him as a "quality" player.

The Blues spent a club-record £60 million on him last year, and he has so far contributed 21 goals and six assists in 64 appearances.

Speaking to La Gazzetta dello Sport (Gianluca Di Marzio) about his start to life at Stamford Bridge and his players, Sarri said: "Morata is a quality player, fast and technically gifted. He's a sensible person and the difficulties had hurt him."

Morata had scored 20 goals for Real Madrid the season before he arrived at Chelsea, despite being a back-up, so the Blues will have hoped for a stronger return on their investment than the numbers he has produced thus far.

The Spaniard seems to feel the pressure more than most when he's in front of goal, per ESPN FC's Liam Twomey:

Liam Twomey @liam_twomey

All top strikers put big pressure on themselves to score, but the burden seems to weigh much heavier on him than is healthy - or productive #cfc

Morata has scored six goals for Chelsea this season—the same number Alexandre Lacazette has managed at Arsenal and two more than Romelu Lukaku or Roberto Firminohave scored for Manchester United or Liverpool, respectively.

However, he routinely looks devoid of confidence and often fails to convert chances as a result.

His issues have translated into the Spain side. In La Roja's 1-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina on Sunday, he contrived to miss a rebound from six yards.

Football.London's Greg Johnson remarked on it:

Greg Johnson @gregianjohnson

Just seen that Alvaro Morata miss. A new version of 'Nick Hancock's Football Nightmares' is well overdue.

So too did football journalist Euan McTear, but Spanish football expert Graham Hunter believes Morata has tremendous potential:

Euan McTear @emctear

England have Kane. Spain have Morata. UEFA Nations League A Group 4 explained.

Graham Hunter @BumperGraham

@emctear As a completely separate point I’ll admit that I’m 100% convinced Morata will achieve great things #differentpointhonestguv

Indeed, having impressed at Juventus and Real Madrid before joining Chelsea, it's clear Morata has something about him.

However, his lack of confidence is not just affecting his ability to find the back of the net; it's also making him a less effective player more generally in the final third, as it is stopping him from getting into the dangerous positions he'd normally adopt.

Indeed, coming short rather than making a run into the box has become a common sight.

The 26-year-old needs to be more relaxed on the pitch and adopt a similar mentality to other elite strikers in front of goal. Morata appears to dwell heavily on missed chances, which is not necessarily a bad thing if he can use it as motivating fuel to ensure he makes amends with his next effort on goal, rather than let it hamper him.

If Sarri can help him do that, he'll have a phenomenal weapon on his hands.