Álvaro Morata is undoubtedly the man of the moment at Chelsea Football Club right now thanks, in no small part, to his perfectly timed hat-trick over the weekend against Stoke City. Barely 24 hours after Chelsea confirmed the long-awaited agreement to transfer Diego Costa to Atlético, Morata has confirmed his status as the newest goalscoring hero of Stamford Bridge.
Alvaro Morata has 8 goals + assists in first 6 Premier League games. Seems like he's acclimated to PL, wonder when PL will acclimate to him.— Jake Cohen (@JakeFCohen) September 23, 2017
Costa will of course be greatly missed — for his goals as much as his dressing room presence, though less so for his controversies. But while his friends were numerous, we all understand how these things work in professional football.
"These players (Matić and Costa) are great players, we miss these players, but Chelsea always try to bring players with quality. I think the players that arrive have the quality to play here and the squad and the team are still strong. And we have to push till the end of the season.
"It is difficult to talk about that because of course when you lose players like that, it is bad. But we have great players here and we have to be happy if you are here, or in Manchester or Madrid.”
-Willian; source: Sky
“All the Chelsea players wish Diego the very best.
“Everyone in their career moves on eventually. Whatever happened has happened, but for the period of time he was here, he was fantastic. We were successful together and I will take that, those great memories. People leave, but we don’t forget them and we don’t forget what they have done.”
-Gary Cahill; source: Evening Standard
Morata is unlikely to keep up his goal-per-game average, but if he can replace or even improve on Costa’s 20-goal seasons, there aren’t going to be too many complaints. He’s younger, faster, more well-rounded than Atlético’s prodigal son and even though he’s still coming to grips with the league, he already seems to be fitting in quite well at Chelsea.
Captain Gary Cahill concurns.
“It’s great that, after Diego, we have another striker coming in and scoring straight away. I’m sure Álvaro wasn’t surprised by the pressure. He knew that it would be there when he joined and he came from a huge club anyway. Being a striker for Chelsea comes with a lot of pressure, but he has played with big players and big teams. He knows how to handle that and I don’t think it has been an issue at all."
“The easiest thing I found when I joined [in 2012] was that I knew a few people beforehand. It was early doors but I was in there with Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and JT. A few familiar faces helps and there are obviously a few Spaniards that Morata knows here. He is a fantastic guy, down to earth. His personality makes it very easy to get on with him."
“You can see from his performances that he is enjoying life at Chelsea. For us, it’s about having his back and making sure we provide for him. The lads up front did that at Stoke. He finished all his chances off and his confidence is flying.”
-Gary Cahill; source: London Evening Standard
One man who had been Costa’s teammate even longer than the three years together at Chelsea, is Thibaut Courtois, who had shared a dressing room with Costa at Atlético as well (“He was always a nice guy in the dressing room”). Courtois was there on loan from Chelsea for three seasons returning to the parent club in the same summer as when Mourinho signed Costa (and Fàbregas). Chelsea would go on to win the league easily that season (2014-15) and then repeat that trick two seasons later.
Courtois remains confident that the changing of the guard at striker will not diminish the club’s future trophy haul.
"We have a new striker and he is doing well and we have to move on. As a friend I will miss Diego, and as a player as well, but Álvaro came in and is doing a job so we are happy with that."
"We know [Álvaro Morata] is a top striker. We know he has this ability and we’re very happy for him that he scored his hat-trick. Stoke away is a very hard game. Last year we won only in the last minutes. This year Arsenal lost here and United struggled so we must be pleased."
"Not only the hat-trick, but since the beginning he is scoring goals. He feels good, a striker lives on goals and he has already scored a few important ones this season. It’s his first hat-trick in the Premier League but he was feeling good already."
-Thibaut Courtois; Source: Chelsea FC
In a way, none of Morata’s success should be surprising. After all, he had proven himself in both Spain and Italy, often despite limited opportunities, and thus did cost Chelsea a club-record transfer fee.
But this is only the beginning. The hard work never stops.
"Don't forget his previous experience – [Álvaro Morata] didn't play a lot with Juventus and Real Madrid but now he has a great chance to show that he is a really good striker, a fantastic striker."
"He's very young, only 24 years, and I think this is important for Chelsea. I think now he's involved totally in our style of football, in our idea. He's very strong and he showed he's a really good, complete player."
"The Premier League is not easy for the striker. During the game there is a lot of physical contact and you must be prepared for this type of game because also the referee doesn't whistle a lot. I think that's good for the game. He adapted very well to this league but now he has to continue to work and improve because he's only starting."
-Antonio Conte; Source: Chelsea FC
Costa’s return to Atlético just adds another layer of intrigue to Wednesday’s meeting between the two sides at Atlético’s new stadium. But as always, the players will have to shut out all external noise, focus, concentrate, and pay great attention.
A few goals from Morata certainly wouldn’t hurt however.