Can support star Alvaro Morata handle being cast as Chelsea's leading man?

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Alvaro Morata will soon have broken transfer records at two of the world’s biggest clubs.

Never before have Chelsea paid as much as the reported £58 million they have forked out on the Spain international.

Chelsea 17/20 to finish as top London club

And never before have Real Madrid recouped so much for a player, with reports in Spain suggesting the eventual fee will eclipse the £59.7m demanded for Angel Di Maria when he joined Man Utd in 2014.

Morata has the world at his very expensive feet. “He is a really good player and he can compete with every striker in the world," beamed Blues boss Antonio Conte last month, delighted to finally be coaching the man he brought to Juventus in 2014, only to leave his coaching post before Morata could play.

The 24-year-old arrived in London last month with some pedigree. He has 12 major titles to his name, having claimed league-and-cup doubles in Italy and Spain as well as a couple of UEFA Champions League winning medals. 

Alvaro Morata Real Madrid

He featured in three of the last four European club finals. Yet in only one of those finals was he a starter – starting, and scoring, for Juventus during a two-year spell in Italy that saw the Old Lady go down to Barcelona in 2015. In the other two finals, both with Real Madrid, he arrived as a late substitute. 

Morata has seen it all and won it all, but the truth is he hasn’t really done it all. He hasn’t really played that much football. Indeed, the Premier League’s latest megabuy has never started more than 16 matches in a league season.

He’s left Los Blancos to change all that. “It is hard to leave Madrid but it is not so hard when you come to a club like Chelsea,” he said. “I want to play and I want to score and I want to give everything on the pitch.”

His forerunner certainly gave it all on the pitch. Which makes Morata’s task even greater. Not only does he have to cement a leading role for the first time in his career, but he has to replace Diego Costa.

Costa, now persona non grata following a fall-out with Conte, hit 20 league goals last term to fire Chelsea to the title – nine of those directly earned his side points.

Morata may look like a bustling forward, capable of intimidating defenders like Costa did with such success during his time with the club, but the truth is Chelsea’s new No.9 is quite different to the man he’s been brought in to replace.

Morata Sure 09082017

“I think he’s more skilful than Costa. Costa bullied a lot. He would get players to fight things out,” former Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino told ITV. “Morata will give a different style to Chelsea.”

First off, Morata needs to get into the team, and then stay there. With Eden Hazard nursing an ankle injury, there is talk that Michy Batshuayi will take the centre-forward role and Morata may be forced wide left. 

The former Madrid man was left on the bench in last week’s Community Shield defeat to Arsenal, arriving in the second-half before missing a penalty in the shootout. 

It was hardly the best of starts. And with Chelsea’s squad looking stretched with Champions League football to come, a good start in the league will be crucial for the club and Morata personally.

The time has come for one of Europe’s best supporting actors to as a lead role. It’s new territory and brings new pressure for Chelsea’s record signing.

The pressure is already on as he looks to live up to his top billing.

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Posted by on Monday, August 7, 2017

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