It took Álvaro Morata all of about 48 hours to have people wondering if there was a curse surrounding his 21-year-old self and the €20 million Juventus had just spent to bring him to Turin.
What was to be a crucial five-week integration period with his new Juventus teammates (and coaches) vanished in the blink of an eye. So much for a preseason trip around the world for young Álvaro. Instead, he spent his days rehabbing and doing the Ice Bucket Challenge from Vinovo rather than hanging out with kangaroos and getting mobbed by fans like the rest of his new Juventus teammates.
The good news in all of this? Morata's time injured on the sidelines is officially over. As the international break arrived, so did Morata's time to get back to full training with the reduced numbers of Juve players in Turin. No more rehab sessions, no more dumping buckets of ice-cold water on his head (although it was for a damn good cause). It is now time for Morata to try and live up to the hefty price tag that was sent to Real Madrid in exchange for his signature.
The opinions when it comes to Morata amongst Real Madrid supporters and/or regular followers of La Liga seem to be split. Some were unhappy when Juventus signed him this summer, others were essentially thrilled that Madrid were able to get €20 million for a young and hyped striker who hadn't exactly lived up to the billing thus far. Then again, when you're comparing somebody to what was ahead of him at Madrid the past couple of years, it's easy to see why some might feel like Morata wasn't par for the course.
Then again, we can just watch young Álvaro — the same player who had the best goal-per-minute ratio in La Liga last season — score some goals and so that all of us can be the judge. Discuss at your own risk. (Because YouTube highlight videos are obviously the determining factor, duh.)
Why Juventus signed Morata is pretty clear: He is a young, versatile striker who is not only viewed as a contributor this season, but also one that is projected to be in bianconero for what Juve hopes is a long time. The versatility factor is basically one characteristic that is consistent with all of Juve's summer signings. And while he has yet to make his Juventus debut, Morata looked upon as a player who can feature in a variety of positions in attack.
Morata will surely contribute. This season, too. To what extent, well, we don't know that part of it just yet. That's the funny thing about this season — we're probably trying to figure out what formation Max Allegri is going to go with on a full-time basis just as much as he is. It's not like the days of Antonio Conte where we basically penciled in a 3-5-2 for 2 1/2 years straight and that was it. That was easy, this isn't even close to being easy.
Carlos Tévez will play — a lot. Fernando Llorente will play — a lot ... and then post #vamos on Twitter 100 times over every month. We know those two, regardless of the formation, will play because they're two of the best around. But what we don't know is where Morata figures in this complicated striker puzzle. And now that fellow summer signing Kingsley Coman has shown that he can ball a little bit, the picture becomes even that much more hard to figure.
Let's just go ahead and assume that Tévez and Llorente play around the same kind of minutes they did a year ago. There's only a few formations that would allow Morata to get a good chunk of playing time, too. Or, on the other end of the discussion, the competition is a good thing. Why? Because when you have somebody nipping at your heals, you're going to want to show the boss you deserve the time you're getting.
At this point, it's simply speculation. For all we know next month Juve are playing a Tévez-Llorente-Morata trident up top and scoring goals like they're going out of style. Like I said, Allegri is clearly tinkering with things before he gets a formation he's truly comfortable with on a regular basis. Or maybe the versatility within the squad — Morata included — means Allegri will just tinker like a madman no matter who Juventus are playing on any given day.
But this is what I do know: I'm excited to see what Álvaro Morata can do while wearing a Juventus jersey. And maybe, just maybe, we will like this Spanish striker as much as the last one Juve signed. One can only hope.
ÁLVARO MORATA 2014-15 PROJECTION (SERIE A ONLY)
- Juventus' biggest move this summer was who they kept, not who they signed
- Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini injuries calf while training with Italian national team
- Juventus submit 26-man squad list for Champions League group stage
- OFFICIALLY OFFICIAL: Juventus defender Paolo De Ceglie joins Parma on loan
- Reports: Monaco striker Radamel Falcao set to join Manchester United on loan