Player Profiles: Alvaro Morata

Real Madrid unveil summer signing Alvaro Morata.

I’ll be the first to admit I expected more from Spain in this European tournament. Arguably the most talented squad, failed to perform when it mattered, although credit has to be given to the Italians in that final 16 game. One stand-out player for Spain was Alvaro Morata. The striker boasted 3 goals in 4 games and a 64% on target shot percentage On 21 June 2016, Real Madrid smartly exercised their buy-back clause to bring back Morata from Juventus for €30 million.

Morata’s footballing journey started on the other side of Madrid with Athletico back in 2005, he spent two years there before moving to Getafe’s youth system. He spent a year there before moving to Real Madrid where he finished his footballing education with the C team where he won two youth cups and scored 34 goals, earning him a promotion to the B team in July 2010. Madrid coach Jose Mourinho was quick to notice his potential, inviting him n a pre-season tour of America in his first month.

In his first year with the Castilla, Real Madrid’s reserve side, Morata hit 15 goals in 28 matches as well as emerging onto the fringes of the senior squad, making a handful of substitute appearances under Mourinho. Despite his numerous cameos, Morata was ignored by Mourinho when filling the void left behind by Gonzalo Higuain’s injury in January 2011.Morata’s goals were vital to Spain’s triumph in the under-21 European Championship, the second trophy he has won during his time with Spain’s youth system after he won the under-19 European Championship back in 2011, where he also finished with the Golden Boot. More recently, Morata impressed in his 2 seaons at Juventus. In late May of this year he came off the bench to score the winning goal in the 110th minute of extra time to win the Coppa Italia 1–0 against A.C. Milan

Morata stands at 6ft 2 inches tall and offers an impressive presence in the air, winning most of his aerial duels and also being a deadly target for crosses.He doesn’t stay true to the old-fashioned cumbersome centre-forward that usually correlates with tall players either, possessing excellent mobility and fine movement when leading the line, dragging defenders around to create space for other players to run into, a trait that fits perfectly into the ultra-fluid Spanish system. Such a style has seen him draw comparisons with Fernando Morientes.Mostly comfortable in drifting out to the left-hand side of the attack, Morata can use gifted technical skill to glide last defenders to create chances for others, or even to get shots away with his lethal finishing. He has shown his ability to clinically dispatch chances from crosses or even after creating them himself with direct runs into the box with the ball.

With his gifted control and technical skill however, Morata needs to work on bringing others into play as sometimes he struggles to link with other attacking players. Some may level the accusation that Morata is sometimes too selfish in the final third, preferring to go for goal himself when a pass is the better option, though that will be ironed out as he matures and further progresses with more first-team football. For me, he was sometimes guilty of this during Euro 2016.Morata is also known for his high work-rate which you’d probably expect from a Spanish player, hailing from a country ingrained in the art of intense pressing. Constantly hassling and harrying defenders off the ball, he is a huge asset to a team that likes to defend from the front.

I hope this tournament wasn’t a flash in the pan for Morata, and I for one, certainly looking forward to watching him in La Liga this season. No longer just a “potential”, it’s time for the Madrid born man to step up.

Alavi

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