Alvaro Morata is on his way to Chelsea, according to reports from Italy.
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Morata, 24, looked to be heading to Manchester United for most of the summer but Jose Mourinho and the Red Devils chose to pursue Romelu Lukaku instead and pipped Chelsea to signing the Belgian striker for $96.5 million.
It now appears that Real Madrid’s Morata, who is currently on their preseason tour of the USA, is ready to switch Madrid for London in a $97 million deal and link-up with Antonio Conte once again.
Chelsea’s manager signed a new and improved two-year deal on Tuesday and after previous reports stated he was “frustrated” by the lack of summer signings at Stamford Bridge, it now appears he has landed his top target with Morata a ready-made replacement for Diego Costa.
Costa is on his way out of Stamford Bridge with his very public fall-out with Conte reaching new lows all the time.
Chelsea simply have to offload their wantaway striker as soon as possible — he wants to re-join Atletico Madrid but the move is complicated due to their transfer ban until January 2018 — with Conte telling the Spanish international at the start of the summer that he was no longer needed.
What will Morata bring?
It feels like we’ve been analyzing his skills all summer long, but the Spaniard is a true center forward who can hold the ball up, is good in the air and is clinical when he gets chances. Morata is just 24 years old but after spending the past season at Real Madrid sitting behind Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema, he needs to play regularly.
Conte worked with Morata at Juventus and although that wasn’t his most clinical spell the Spanish international has scored 25 goals in 63 La Liga appearances for Real (mostly off the bench) and he scored 27 goals in 93 appearances for Juve in all competitions from 2014-16.
Chelsea have the players to provide Morata with chances and Conte obviously believes he can deliver the goals his team will lose after Costa’s departure. With Lukaku moving to United, and Sergio Aguero and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang said to be staying at their respective clubs, was Morata Chelsea’s first choice to replace Costa?
Who knows, but it’s certainly an intriguing question to ponder as the reigning PL champs scramble around for a new star striker. It’s a lot of cash to spend and would be a club record fee by some distance, but with so many goals and appearances at two of Europe’s biggest clubs at such a young age, Morata’s potential is huge.