Alvaro Morata will have to get used to the spotlight.
The Spain international had walked the world’s greatest stages, but never before had he enjoyed top billing.
He’d starred for Real Madrid and Juventus, and claimed 12 major titles in his career. He had featured in three of the last four European club finals, and became the most expensive sale in Real Madrid’s history this past summer.
Yet he arrived in London having never made more than 16 starts in a league season since being promoted from Madrid’s 'B' team.
On Saturday, however, the 24-year-old was undoubtedly the star of the show, firing a magnificent hat-trick to dismantle Stoke City and finally condemn his predecessor to the past.
After a week that saw Diego Costa agree his long-awaited exit, Chelsea’s attack has had a facelift, replacing the snarling, combative Costa for, as Conte put it, “a polite player… the type of person you’d like to see marry your daughter.”
Costa was officially traded in for a younger model on Saturday as Morata became the 17th player to score a Premier League hat-trick for Chelsea.
It’s been a lightening start. No player has been involved in more goals in their first six Premier League games for Chelsea than Alvaro Morata (eight; six goals, two assists).
One of the standout performers of the weekend, Morata’s showing earned him a Pressure Index score of 91, seeing him become Chelsea's only player in the Pressure Index top 15 for the season so far.
He ran in behind Stoke for his first, ran through them for his second, and ghosted in between them for his third, removing any lingering doubts that he may not be good enough to replace Costa as the lone centre-forward.
Already there are questions over why he was left out of Chelsea’s Premier League opener, a 3-2 loss to Burnley at home which remains their only defeat of the season so far.
“Alvaro didn’t play a lot with Juventus and Real Madrid but now he has a great chance to show that he is a fantastic striker,” Conte said. “He adapted very well to this league, now he needs to continue to work because he has only just started down this path.”
Chelsea have a new leading man.