In a rare step, Atlético Madrid on Thursday published a new interview with Álvaro Morata on the official club website (in English here), confirming the Spain forward will be returning to work under Diego Simeone’s watch next week.
“I’m very motivated and I can’t wait to start training,” Morata said. “I am sure it will be a great year.”
Atlético shipped Morata to Juventus in September 2020 in order to free up space to sign Luis Suárez from Barcelona. Surely, that move is one nobody at the club regrets — though Morata played fairly well in Turin, Suárez produced a 20-goal season to fire Atleti to the league title in 2021. Suárez outscored Morata in all competitions last season, too, even though El Pistolero was clearly past his prime.
Still, available options on the market did not convince Atlético, and the club held firm on its €35 million valuation, so Morata is back. It could be a tad awkward after the 29-year-old fell out with Simeone at the end of the 2019/20 campaign, and the player is returning to a team where he won’t be guaranteed consistent minutes.
In a World Cup year, Morata is set to fight for minutes with Matheus Cunha, Ángel Correa, Antoine Griezmann, and João Félix — who can now be considered the team’s star and the fulcrum upon which it should be built.
“I am lucky to have already worked with Simeone and his team, and that will make everything easier ... There’s a lot of competition up front, there are many great players and I think it’s very good for the team because the more options there are to choose from and the more options there are in the attacking third, the better it will be for competitiveness between us — and above all, to compete against the other teams,” Morata said.
Morata did not set any personal objectives for the coming season beyond a desire to help Atlético win games. Most of last year’s underachieving team remains in place — but of course, the flip side of that coin is that including Saúl Ñíguez, 14 members of the 2020/21 league title-winning side are still here.
“There is a super-complete squad that can aspire to anything, they already showed it two seasons ago by winning the league title in a competition as difficult as the Spanish one,” Morata said. “We have to work very hard in this preseason to be in the best physical condition to fight for everything.”
“In the end, you should think about helping the team as much as possible with goals and assists, but the most important thing is to win titles. It’s what I want, and what my teammates want,” he said. “On a personal level, the challenges you set for yourself don’t matter. The important thing is to be competitive as a group and fight for everything until the end.”
With the situation at center-forward apparently now resolved, Atlético’s top priority is acquiring a starting right-back, followed by a central midfielder and another option in central defense.