Chelsea’s preseason continues to move along at breakneck speed. Blink and you might miss it. We’re now just one week from the Community Shield and two weeks from the first game of the season, with the transfer window (at least for buying) slamming shut in the meantime as well. That the squad is still undermanned, with the likes of Kanté, Hazard, Willian, and Courtois yet to even return from vacation, let alone touch a ball or have a word with the new boss only adds to the concerns — Chelsea are hardly alone in this regard (Manchester City are even more affected), but most other top teams are not trying to implement drastically different tactics and mentality.
Question marks abound about some of those players who are back already as well, perhaps none more so than Álvaro Morata. All summer long there’s been plenty of noise about a potential return to Italy for him, and while recently he seems to have recommitted himself to the club on social media, rumors continue unabated.
Morata’s terrible shift in Perth didn’t help his situation, but he showed some palpable improvement yesterday in Nice. It was far from a complete showing, with quality coming in bits and spurts just like for the squad in general, but it was an improvement nonetheless. He single-handedly created Chelsea’s goal through some good footwork and tenacity. If you squinted hard enough, you could’ve mistaken him for Diego Costa in that instance! Morata himself was rightly buoyed by his 65-minute-long outing.
We keep working and we keep getting better!! Great job!! Go Chelsea!! pic.twitter.com/2zpnnUPINp— Álvaro Morata (@AlvaroMorata) July 28, 2018
But as far as Morata’s future, the uncertainty remains. Speaking afterwards, head coach Maurizio Sarri didn’t sound too confident about his first-choice (?) striker’s future.
“Morata? We want to keep our best players but not at all costs. We want to keep our top players but only if they want to be here. We can try to convince some players but let’s see how it goes. We want to keep improving...”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: Sky Italia via CalcioMercato
When he was asked about Hazard recently, Sarri said “he’s confident” in keeping him. But in Morata’s case, his answer was a lot less certain. That said, in his post-match comments, the confident tone was back.
“I’m still waiting for the best Morata. In the first match [against Perth Glory] Morata did not play very well, in Australia. But tonight, especially in the first 30 minutes, he improved a lot. I am satisfied and I am very confident in him for the future.”
-Maurizio Sarri; source: ESPN