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Do Morata’s Spain struggles show that Madrid are right to sell?

23:30 GMT+3 16/06/2016
Petr Cech Alvaro Morata Spain Czech Republic Euro 2016
The Juventus striker missed chances for La Roja on Monday and his future lies away from the Santiago Bernabeu, despite continued speculation linking him with a return to Spain


It is a privileged position. To start in the centre-forward role for Spain, ahead of a wealth of midfield talent, is something most strikers would relish. But Alvaro Morata failed to live up to expectations against the Czech Republic on Monday.

The Juventus forward fluffed the best chance of the match as he fired straight at Petr Cech from close range in the first half and in the end, Spain needed an 87th-minute header from Gerard Pique to claim all three points. By that point, Morata had long left the pitch, having been replaced by the more direct Aritz Aduriz.

"He has to move close to the midfielders, offer himself, give good passing options," coach Vicente del Bosque said before the start of Euro 2016. "He has to stretch the team, know how to play on the limits of offside - everything that you look for in a good striker."

However, in his 62 minutes on the pitch in Toulouse, Morata rarely looked like the player that his coach claimed could become one of the game's greatest forwards. Asked in an interview by AS if he can reach the level of superstars such as Luis Suarez and Robert Lewandowki, Del Bosque said: "That's the challenge - and he has the attributes to achieve it."

Praise indeed. But whether or not Morata does reach that lofty level, it is almost certainly not going to be at Real Madrid.

The 23-year-old came through the youth system at the Santiago Bernabeu and scored 11 goals in 52 appearances for Los Blancos between 2011 and 2014, ultimately leaving due to a lack of first-team football at the club he had supported from a young age.

Much more prominent at Juventus, the Spanish striker has hit 27 goals in 93 games for the Bianconeri, although only 15 of those strikes have come in Serie A (from 63 appearances in Italy's top flight).

Juve are keen to keep the player this summer, but Madrid are set to exercise their buy-back option on their former player (for around €35 million) because they know they can make money by selling him on to the Premier League - where Chelsea lead a number of interested parties - for a fee in excess of €60m.

Despite missing out on Euro 2016 with France after he was at the centre of blackmail allegations in the sex-tape scandal involving international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena, Karim Benzema remains a firm favourite at Real and especially with coach Zinedine Zidane.

Madrid are confident Benzema will be cleared when that case is concluded and are standing behind their striker. And despite talks with Lewandowski over a possible move to the Bernabeu, it now seems likely that Zidane will only bring in another No.9 as support for the French forward.

Morata has been there already and was not happy with his reduced role latterly in his time at Real, so would be unlikely to accept something similar this time around.

In any case, his tendency to move out wide means he would occupy many of the same positions as Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. At Madrid, Benzema drops deeper and turns provider for those two, something Morata cannot really offer.

He can also be frustrating in teams that enjoy most of the possession, often looking more effective in a counter-attacking side - which is why he has been better for Juventus in Europe and was so superb against Bayern Munich last season.

With Madrid keen on Juve midfielder Paul Pogba and the Italians interested in bringing Mateo Kovacic to Turin from Real, there is a lot for the two teams to talk about in the next few weeks, and Morata could yet end up staying at his current club.

At Euro 2016, meanwhile, he is focused only on his football and has told the Spanish Federation (RFEF) that he does not want any added speculation, declining all requests for an interview during the continental competition.

"I'm tired of the buy-back talk," he said earlier this month. "I want to stop having to depend on others and to only depend on myself. I just want this to end as quickly as possible."

That end is now in sight, but it is unlikely to be with a dream return to Madrid. Because Morata's Spain struggles have shown that, at the moment, he is not good enough to be first choice at a club like Real.

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