Hakuna Morata, what a wonderful phrase. It means no worries, for our striker problem days. The hunt for a Centre Forward is finally over as Juventus welcome back one of our old boys, Alvaro Morata. There was mild speculation in the middle of the transfer window of his return, however, only through moderately reliable resources. As I write this on Monday, September 21, the always reliable Fabrizio Romano, Gianluca Di Marzio and Romeo Agresti have all said Morata is coming back.
The transfer breaks down as follows: Initial one year loan from Atletico Madrid that Juventus must pay €9 million for the 2020-2021 season with an option to buy for a further €45 million. On top of this Juventus has an option on a following one year loan going into the 2021-2022 season which is also another €9 million with an option to buy for a further €36 million. If we take Morata on for the full 5 years of his proposed contract the total operation will be valued at €54 Million. Basically, this deal gives Juventus many options going forward. They do not spend as much on a Number 9 during a global crisis as they normally would, and they can choose if they want to keep the player over a 2 year timeline.
Now that the deal has been broken down, we dive into what Alvaro Morata can do on the pitch. Morata played for Juventus as we all know during the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons. He had quite the successful spell here, scoring enormous Champions League Knockout and Coppa Italia Final goals. During this era, Juventini came to find that Morata was energetic, pacey and had an exceptional work rate. He lined up in a 4-4-2 Diamond as one of the strikers beside Juventus legend, Carlos Tevez.
Since his departure, Morata had a decent spell in his lone year back at Real Madrid, a tumultuous time at Chelsea and an average spell with Atletico. With Juventus, I see him fitting in much better.
Current day, I can see Morata being used as the main Centre Forward in a 4-3-3 under Pirlo.
Ronaldo Morata Dybala/Kulusevski
Alex Sandro Chiellini Bonnuci Cuadrado
This set up looks very attack minded. But so far, we know Manager, Andrea Pirlo likes to invert formations while in possession and while in the defensive phase. When in possession, Paulo Dybala will float in the middle of the attack coming off the right wing and operating from that position. Alvaro Morata will be the focal point, occupying opposing Centre Backs and be a willing runner through lines of defense into space. Morata also possesses decent link up play around the box so creative players like Dybala, Ramsey, Kulusevski and of course Ronaldo will look to find his feet and make corresponding runs off him.
In the defensive phase, we have heard Pirlo state that he would like the team to press in the opposing half without the ball. Morata is a tireless runner and has the engine that could lead the line in the first phase of defending, setting proper angles for the rest of the team to cut off and not allowing the opposing team to play through Juve.
I can also see Morata lining up in a 3-5-2
Alex Sandro/Frabotta Chiellini Bonucci De Ligt/Demiral Cuadrado/Bernardeschi
In this particular lineup, Morata would most likely used as the target man and use his strength in the air and good technical ability to link up with Ronaldo running on or the Advanced Midfielder (in this case Ramsey or Dybala). He has good aerial ability and has scored some decent header’s over the years. This is helpful because with the width in a 3-5-2, crosses are inevitable and will be coming in.
In the defensive phase of this formation he will still be asked to be the first form of defensive pressure. The only change will be his willingness to properly press when Ronaldo ultimately does not. I see Morata as a team player, so I don’t see this as an issue.
We should not expect goals upon goals with the arrival of Morata. His career average is 0.8 goal contributions per 90 minutes according to FBref.com and he almost always goes under his expected goals (xGF). His statistical numbers are not eye popping but his work off the ball is very critical and will hopefully allow the creative players at Juventus to prosper.
I think Morata is a perfect fit in these formations and this club. He rarely complains about not starting every game and he can make an impact coming off the bench as we saw this for Atletico last year. Pirlo,
Buffon, Chiellini, Cuadrado and Dybala remain with Juventus and they will give Morata some encouragement and confidence to regain his form. His finishing is not the greatest, but I believe he was brought in to do many other things than just score goals.
Writing this now, I am cautiously optimistic with the signing. The financial deal is an excellent one and the on-pitch signing could follow this same path. Either way Juventini, we finally have a Number 9 in our ranks and he just so happens to be a fan favourite! What about you? Do you like the Morata signing?
By: Julian Giannotti