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%.
MOVEMENT AND DRIBBLING
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.