Álvaro Morata returned with much fanfare to one of his boyhood clubs last year. Atlético Madrid were only too happy to take him off Chelsea’s hands on an 18-month loan deal and toss him to Diego Simeone — with the coach expected to make the Madrid native a killer, a lethal number nine as he prepared to enter his prime at age 26.
Atlético will rake in an initial €10 million for Morata, and Juve have a €45 million option (paid in installments) to purchase the player next summer — as well as a €35 million option to purchase him in summer 2022. The Spain international scored 27 goals across 93 games in all competitions during his first stint with the Serie A champions, between 2014 and 2016.
Photos emerged of Morata touching down in Turin on Monday night, where he passed his medical Tuesday morning to formalize the switch. The forward then waved adiós to Atlético and its supporters via Instagram moments before the transfer was announced.
Atlético made this move for a couple reasons — the most prominent being the club is closing in on a deal to sign Luis Suárez from Barcelona on a two-year contract. A Tuesday night meeting between Suárez’s lawyers and president Josep Maria Bartomeu reportedly culminated in an agreement between Atleti and Barça, wherein Los Rojiblancos will pay for Suárez in variables likely based on Champions League progression.
Moreover, Morata was displeased with his minutes during the 2019/20 season and was frustrated when Simeone turned to Diego Costa in big games. Morata’s final appearance for the club came in the Aug. 13 loss to RB Leipzig, in which he played just 18 minutes while Costa received 72 minutes. The former Real Madrid academy graduate also started from the bench in nine of his 34 LaLiga appearances last season, despite being Atlético’s leading scorer (12 goals) in league play. Furthermore, his 16 goals in all competitions led the team.
But in all, Morata scored 22 goals in 61 appearances for Atlético — a somewhat-disappointing total for a player who cost Atlético €55 million to sign permanently. Only Getafe’s Jaime Mata (38) strayed offside more than Morata (37) in 2019/20, while the 27-year-old’s streakiness saw him score six of those 16 goals in a six-game stretch between Oct. 22 and Nov. 10.
Atleti judged that Suárez would be an upgrade over Morata — and in the absence of Costa suitors, the club acted accordingly to open up a spot for the Uruguayan.