Two months into his Chelsea career, Álvaro Morata looked set to fire Conte’s Blues to plenty of wins and trophies, and make us all quickly forget about Diego Costa. Signed for a club record fee from Real Madrid, Morata was on fire in front of goal, scoring 7 times in his first 8 appearances despite not quite being up to full match fitness. It seemed like not only would he more than justify Chelsea’s £60m investment, but would finally put to rest the Curse of the No.9 at Stamford Bridge.
Alas, as we know all too well, that’s all come crashing to a halt once the calendar turned over to 2018. After scoring 12 goals in the first-half of the season (26 appearances), he would go on to score just 3 in the second-half (22 appearances). Combined with the 1 goal in 5 appearances this season, the contrast of 12 in the first 26 versus 4 in the next 27 is quite drastic and clear.
In fact, some might call that a disaster, including Morata himself, who’s never too far removed from harsh self-assessments.
“I was not happy at Chelsea last season. The end of last season was a disaster. When I went on to the pitch, I didn’t even know where I was.
“I honestly considered returning to play in Spain or in Italy, where I had been successful and happy.”
Morata had talked before about the uncertainties of the summer, and for a while it certainly looked like he might leave. But a chat with the club as well as the new coach had convinced him that conditions are “perfect” for him to succeed. So he chose to stay and fight for that.
“But you cannot always run away from reality. You have to stick it out. In adversity, you have to find motivation to continue and do well. I want to be happy this season. I want to have a great season at Chelsea.”
“Things have changed. I’ve become a father, I have a new coach [in Maurizio Sarri]. I have returned to the national team, all positive things — and I hope that I can show that on the pitch.”
-Álvaro Morata; source: ESPN
While he did change his number from No.9 to No.29 — that’s one obstacle to success out of the way! — so far, Morata hasn’t exactly proved his doubters wrong, and Olivier Giroud’s already nipping at his heels. But the 25-year-old seems to retain Sarri’s faith, for now, and with plenty of games and just two strikers in the squad, should get lots of chances to finally prove himself at Chelsea.