by Ryan Baldi
4. ALVARO MORATA (REAL MADRID)
Despite his intermittent game time, the 6ft 2in centre-forward has impressed in a series of cameo appearances for Los Blancos, scoring 13 goals in 32 appearances
Though heavily linked with a move to Chelsea, Alvaro Morata returned to Real Madrid last summer when the European champions exercised their €30m buyback option to re-sign the Spain international from Juventus.
Though he was never prolific during his two years in Turin – 27 goals from 93 appearances – Morata earned his reputation as a big-game player by scoring in the 2015 Champions League Final against Barcelona and the Coppa Italia final a year later. His work rate and selflessness also endeared him to the Bianconeri suppoters, who were sad to see him return to the Spanish capital.
Last month, however, Spanish newspaper AS reported that Morata has grown frustrated with his lack of opportunities behind Karim Benzema under Zinedine Zidane, and will look to leave the club in the summer. Yet despite his intermittent game time, the 6ft 2in centre-forward has impressed in a series of cameo appearances for los Blancos, scoring 13 goals in 32 appearances in all competitions.
Where Morata could significantly improve United, however, is in his work off the ball. The ex-Juventus man is willing and able to run the channels and stretch opposition defences, opening up space for team-mates in central areas – a requirement at Real Madrid with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale both moving inside from their respective flanks. Having a striker doing a similar job at Old Trafford would benefit Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and, in particular, Anthony Martial.
So far in the Premier League this season, Ibrahimovic has taken 64 shots from inside the penalty area, twice as many as Pogba (32) and three times as many as any other United player bar Mata (29); the 35-year-old, then, has become a vacuum for the Red Devils’ scoring opportunities.
Morata would probably struggle to replicate Ibrahimovic’s goals tally, but his willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of the team would allow others in Mourinho’s team to enjoy a more even spread of goals.
Culled from fourfourtwo.com