At long last, Antonio Conte and Álvaro Morata managed to converge their destinies this summer, with the latter joining the former at Chelsea after a near miss three years ago at Juventus, when Conte signed Morata but left before the season began to take over the Italian national team. The reunion at Chelsea had been rumored ever since Conte decided to return to club management with the Blues last year, and after a bit of drama involving Romelu Lukaku, Manchester United, and Real Madrid, the puzzle pieces feel into place in July and Morata became Chelsea’s record signing.
The 24-year-old striker has spoken many times about the effect Conte has had on his career even before ever getting to play for him, so much of these quotes from an interview given to Gazzetta dello Sport should be familiar by now. It’s all about trust! And hard work. And trust!
“I’m in debt with [Antonio] Conte. He had taken me for Juve and then left for Italy. When I knew he wanted me, I didn’t think twice."
“I came [to Chelsea] because there was a coach like Antonio Conte. We started talking about my eventual transfer last spring and I finally came to London. He is demanding, but he knows how to best explore the skills of a footballer. You see that he breathed the air of a big club, first as a player and then as a coach."
"There were a number of favourable situations [in my decision to move to Chelsea]. The first was the coach: I knew Conte and I had no trouble finding myself in his football ideas. The second is the environment: I was very well received by my companions. The presence of a Spanish enclave, with [César] Azplicueta, [Marcos] Alonso, [Cesc] Fàbregas and Pedro, made things simpler. The third is my wife Alice Campello: she followed me to London.”
Morata spent two years at Juventus after signing, developing into a world class striker and earning a recall to Real Madrid via a buy-back clause. But much like Chelsea loanees often don’t ever get to properly re-integrate, Morata ended up feeling like it was a step backwards in his career. Despite the love he felt for his club and his teammates, he knew he had to move on.
“There were contractual agreements to be respected [between Juventus and Real Madrid]. The disappointment was enormous: I found myself back to the starting point. They treated me like the boy I was before the two seasons in Italy.”
-Álvaro Morata; source: Gazzetta dello Sport
Another factor that helped Morata leave Spain was the simple fact that it wasn’t his favorite place to be. If the joke goes that Courtois had become an honorary Spaniard during his time in Madrid, Morata probably should be an honorary Italian. He simply loves it there. But for now, London will do just fine, for both him and his wife — Morata has also been very open about how much having his family with him means to him, and in that regard he’s also very similar to the Chelsea boss.
“Every time I have spoken with him he has told me he is very happy for this fantastic experience for him, and for his wife.
“Personally last season I was alone without my family. When you stay abroad and work with a lot of pressure, it’s good to have your family with you. This season I solved this problem. My family stay with me, I am enjoying my time in Cobham, I am enjoying London and I am enjoying this league.
“It’s a fantastic experience for Alvaro and for me, and for every single player that decides to have this fantastic experience in a really tough league.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
But back to Morata.
“I came [to Italy] as a boy, I went away as a real player. Italy for a Spaniard is the best country to live. You have everything: beauty, history, art, cooking, fashion. I would never have left Italy and Juve."
"I really miss Italy. My wife would like to live in Spain, I prefer Italy. Here [in England], we can find a compromise"
"I'm doing well. I live in downtown, near Chelsea. London fascinates for its multi-ethnicity, the coexistence of cultures and religions, but I would not live for long [here]. It's too big, with too much stress, and it's too much of a metropolis."
-Álvaro Morata; source: Gazzetta dello Sport
In a least unsurprising turn of events, the quotes above were a bit too juicy for the English media to handle and to not take a major leap and inundate every news feed yesterday with “ÁLVARO MORATA WANTS OUT OF ENGLAND ONLY THREE MONTHS INTO HIS CHELSEA MOVE OMGGGGGG CAN YOU BELIEVE IT”.
Conveniently or coincidentally, Morata was picked to be the player interviewed in the pre-game press conference ahead of tonight’s game — Champions League pressers always involve the head coach and one player — which gave him the chance to clarify his comments.
“In the interview I wanted to say in the future, when I finish my career, I probably won’t live in London, but right now I’m very happy there with my wife.”
“I really like London now but probably in the future, when I want to send my child to school, when I finish my career, I would prefer to come back to my country, where I was born, that’s normal. I’m very happy. When I say it’s a stressful city I’m talking about the traffic and the fact there are a lot of people. But it’s an incredible city with many religions and many different kinds of people, I’m really enjoying London.”
“If Chelsea had proposed a 10-year contract I would have signed it. I’m very happy at this club, in the city and with everything in London. I really like London. If I’m good and I improve, I could probably stay here for more than five years but I need to score many goals, otherwise Chelsea will buy another player, that’s normal.”
-Álvaro Morata; source: Chelsea FC
And thus continues Morata’s streak for giving remarkably open, honest, real, perhaps bordering even on naive answers — the idea of a 10-year contract, especially on your first day, is a bit silly — to generally insidious questions from the press corps. Still, it’s hard to not find this adorable and wish him nothing but the absolute best in Chelsea Blue, both on a personal level and in terms of team accomplishments and successes.
But since he brought it up ... he’s now gone over a month without scoring a goal, though that of course included an injury and an international break. Tonight would be a perfect time to get back on the scoresheet, sensationalist media reports or not.