Having not featured regularly for Real Madrid since his return to the club on a buyback from two seasons at Juventus, Álvaro Morata remains one of the regular names in the Chelsea rumor mill.
Much has been said about a potential reunion between coach Conte and Morata, which may or may not have come fairly close to materializing last summer, including recent words from the striker himself to play down any such rumors. But in a recent interview with the Guardian, he’s struck a slightly different tone, promising an eventual reunion with the man who has been instrumental in his development without ever actually working with him.
"Conte is the manager who most ‘bet’ on me, without even ever having had me in his team. I’m very conscious of that: he bet on me for Juventus but left before I arrived; then he wanted me at Chelsea come what may. He knows me better than I could imagine, I’m sure, and that’s important: it motivates you to work hard, train well."
"I feel indebted to him because he’s the coach that most trusted in me, most wanted me, who made me feel I could perform at the highest level. And yet I’ve never had the fortune to actually work with him. I’m sure sooner or later I will."
"The future excites me, whether that’s Madrid or somewhere else. I still have to learn, improve. I can do a lot but I need to play more and for someone to really back me. Either I take off or I end up in a position of comfort, playing games occasionally. I’m no longer the youngest, I’m 24, it’s a big moment."
Conte’s interest in Morata is fairly well documented at this point, including a fairly serious attempt last summer and continuing rumors ever since. While the situation is complicated by not only Madrid’s intentions, but Diego Costa’s situation as well as the Chelsea Board’s apparent preference for Romelu Lukaku, an eventual reunion probably cannot be ruled out. Morata certainly isn’t doing so.
"Various Premier League coaches called to tell me to play for them. I said yeah, I’d like to, that if I had to leave I would almost certainly go to London, but that I didn’t know what Madrid would do."
"I knew they’d bring me back but I didn’t know if it was to keep me or sell me. I spoke directly to Mauricio Pochettino and Antonio Conte, although the norm is clubs call my dad or agent. Madrid said they didn’t want to sell, so here I am."
"I’m very happy at Madrid and they support me. But if an offer like that came again and they want to sell, I shouldn’t close doors. I loved Italy but if one day I have to leave, I’m sure it will be to the Premier League."
-Álvaro Morata; source: Guardian
With his intentions laid bare, Morata remains committed to making it at Real Madrid. So far, he’s had no luck in displacing Karim Benzema, and thus his future remains a bit cloudy.
As enticing as it may be to get Conte the striker he apparently wants badly enough to sign him for two teams, Morata’s price would be as astronomical as Lukaku’s, but without the proven goalscoring record behind it. But if Costa does leave Chelsea this summer, we will need a proper replacement, and those two names are surely at the top of our shortlist. (Unless we’re willing to do something bold like hand the keys over to Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi...)