At the end of last season, when the Chelsea clan went their separate ways for the summer, Diego Costa received a text from Antonio Conte in which the Italian informed the striker that he was not in his plans for the following season.
It was then blatantly evident, especially after Costa showed the text to members of the media, that Chelsea were in the market for a new striker.
They lost out to Manchester United in their pursuit of Romelu Lukaku but it’s quite possible that Conte may not have been too fussed about that.
The reason for that being, he was always keen on working with Alvaro Morata. The Chelsea boss brought him to Turin three years ago but the national team came calling and Conte duly accepted the post as Italy manager.
Last summer, he enquired about his availability again, only for Madrid to exercise their option to buy him back. Now, Conte finally has the striker he desired after Chelsea agreed a fee with the Spanish giants for the 24-year-old.
Here’s a look at why he is a step up from Costa.
Costa is an able finisher but far from the world’s elite. Despite scoring 59 goals in his three seasons at Chelsea, the Spanish international’s approach in front of goal has always been bullish and forced rather than precise and clinical.
He attempted 111 shots in the Premier League last season for his 20 goals while Morata took just 55 attempts for his 15 in La Liga. As a result, the 24-year-old boasts a shot conversion of 27%, far superior to Costa’s 18%.
The former Atletico Madrid striker, while having a knack for scoring crucial goals, also has a habit for bundling them in and often sports a hit-and-hope attitude.
In Morata though, Chelsea now have a far more cultured scorer with a wide array of finishes in his repertoire. Not to mention the fact that he has proven to be a big-game goal-scorer as well.
In terms of headers, Chelsea were quite poor last season and Costa scored only twice with his head. Despite his frame and imposing nature, he has never seemed strong in the air.
The fact that their main striker isn’t as effective with aerial deliveries seemed to discourage the rest of the players from putting balls into the box as Chelsea were 17th in the league in terms of crosses.
It limited what has previously been a very handy avenue for goals at Stamford Bridge.
Meanwhile, 39% of Morata’s tally came from headed efforts. Chelsea are definitely stepping it up a notch in terms of aerial prowess with their latest acquisition. He also won 50% of his aerial duels compared to Costa’s 25%.
Morata has the run on Costa in terms of pace, but not by much. The latter is a powerful runner and can be quick off the mark but Morata accelerates when in gear and is quicker around a corner.
More importantly though, the former Real striker is clever with his runs, working the channels to great affect and pulling wide before darting across at the opportune moment. When Costa is in the right frame of mind, he chases down passes relentlessly, pursuing seemingly lost causes but has the tendency to try and try again rather than work a different angle.
Another aspect in which the younger of the two strikers excels is in one-on-ones. Morata is the better dribbler and last season, took on his man with a 54% success rate compared to Costa’s 41%.
Morata is also well-versed in operating in different systems, capable of performing in a one, two or three-pronged attack. The time he spent operating in wide areas, particularly when breaking through at Madrid, has served him well in his tactical education.
Premier League champions Chelsea completed the signing of Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata on a five-year-deal on Friday in a deal reported to be worth up to £60million.
“I am so happy to be here. It’s an incredible emotion to be part of this big club. I am looking to work hard, score as many goals as I can and to win as many trophies as possible,” the 24-year-old told Chelsea’s club website.
Morata put pen to paper with the London giants after undergoing a medical and he is now expected to link up with his new team-mates, who are preparing to play Arsenal in a pre-season friendly in Beijing on Saturday.
He could make his debut against Bayern Munich in Singapore next Tuesday.
Morata, who scored 20 goals in 43 appearances for Real last season on their way to the Champions League and Spanish title, also has nine goals in 20 appearances for Spain – including three at last year’s European Championship.
Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo said Morata can make a huge impact domestically as well as in the Champions League.
“We are delighted to complete Alvaro’s signing and welcome him to the club. We believe he can make a great impact for Chelsea and look forward to seeing him in action,” said Emenalo.
“Alvaro has proven class at the highest level and his quality will be a huge asset to Antonio and the squad.”
Earlier Friday, Chelsea coach Antonio Conte marvelled at the “crazy” transfer fees demanded for players, though he praised Morata as a young but experienced striker with a bright future.
“He’s a good striker. He’s a player with the right prospect for Chelsea. He’s very young and for sure he can improve a lot,” Conte told a press conference on the eve of the game against Arsenal.
Chelsea had long been linked to a move for Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, but they signed Morata after the Belgian international joined Manchester United instead for a reported £60million.
Provided by AFP Sport
The transfer window remains hot with a number of players rumoured to be on the move.
We take a look at the latest names and stories making the rounds in the media.
Will any of the following deals happen?
According to Le Parisien, Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain is a done deal.
The Brazilian has been training with Barcelona on their US preseason tour but has reportedly informed teammates that he plans to join the Ligue 1 giants.
The report also claims that the club are now resigned to the transfer.
This one seemed highly unlikely when the reports first emerged but it has been gathering pace and could go either way. On one hand, it seems preposterous that the Brazilian would want to leave Barcelona, one of the biggest clubs in the world, competing at the highest level and where he is one of the main men.
On the flip side, he would be THE main man at PSG, would step out of Lionel Messi’s shadow and link up with a few of his national team buddies again. Could the recent tax regulations being enforced in Spain also affect his decision?
Sky Sports report that Barcelona are willing to offer Arsenal Rafinha for €30m.
The versatile attacking midfielder has not travelled with the rest of the Barcelona squad for their pre-season tour of the USA as he is currently recovering from a knee injury.
It’s quite possible that Barcelona would offer the midfielder to Arsenal and perhaps a few other clubs as well but it doesn’t make the most sense for the Gunners.
They aren’t short of creative midfielders and although he is capable of playing in central midfield as part of a double pivot, his track record with injuries is definitely a concern.
The Independent claim that Chelsea will turn their attention to a back-up striker after securing Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid.
They have made approaches for Swansea City’s Fernando Llorente and Crystal Palace’s Christian Benteke. Swansea are reportedly holding out for £30m for their Spanish striker.
Investing in another striker seems like the right move for Chelsea with only Michy Batshuayi to provide cover for Morata at the moment.
Llorente certainly fits the bill as well as he’s got experience in the Premier League, can fit into Chelsea’s system and has already worked under Conte at Juventus.