The rumor mill hit the “Alvaro Morata wants out” story pretty hard this week, with intentions clear, prices set (€65-70m) and meetings scheduled (next week). So hard in fact that Morata was moved to respond indirectly on Instagram, posting a seemingly heartfelt message to Chelsea fans as the third picture in a random story that included a shoutout to Fernando Torres on the 10th anniversary of his Euro 2008-winning goal and a shoutout to a bakery in Madrid.
“Very excited to start again. The past was hard but that is only one more reason to begin fighting again.”
What should we make of Morata’s post? Is it a dummy? Is it a sincere effort to bring Chelsea supporters back onside? Is it a sign that he’s nowhere near as close to leaving as the rampant speculation would have us believe?
It’s not hard to understand why last season would have made Morata gun-shy about a second season in the Premier League. He carried a bigger load than he’s ever carried before, setting new career highs with 48 appearances and over 2700 minutes in all competitions. He took a bigger beating than he’s ever taken before, too, an unfortunate combination of typical Premier League defending and Conte’s deployment of him as a target man who was always going to get banged around. He missed eight games with a back injury and slumped when he tried to play through it, making for a thoroughly miserable second-half of the season.
On the other hand, assuming that Chelsea’s coaching situation gets sorted in favor of Maurizio Sarri, things could look very different for Morata next term. Sarrismo wouldn’t play him as a target man, it would free him to make the runs that better fit his skill set. It’s a high-scoring, attacking style of football which should boost the striker’s confidence and pad his stats.
So maybe he’s unsettled, or maybe the transfer talk is exaggerated. In the meantime, Chelsea have their own expectations of him, with his smiling face expected at Cobham in 10 days.