One of the biggest surprises of the second half of the 2021-22 season was the resurgence of Alvaro Morata.
While you’ll be hard pressed to find a Juventino/a that won’t acknowledge his deep love for the club and the fact that he works his ass off every time he goes out, his performance in the first half of the season was very much not up to par. Asked to carry the load as a focal center forward, which really doesn’t play to his strengths, he only scored five times in the league before the new year. When the deal for Dusan Vlahovic came out of nowhere, it was assumed that he would be on his way out, with much supposition that Xavi wanted him for his new-look Barcelona.
But Massimiliano Allegri kept him on, moving him out wide much the way he had moved Mario Mandzukic five years earlier. Like the Mandzubeast, Morata was excellent in the role. His play was noticeably better the second half of the year, and while he only finished the season with nine goals he added five assists from January on, bringing his season total to a respectable seven.
In that time opinion began shifting from the idea that Morata would clearly be on his way out at the end of his two-year loan to suddenly wondering if Allegri would ask the team to keep him on in his new role supporting Vlahovic. While there was certainly no way Juventus would pay the €35 million option to make his loan permanent, it certainly wouldn’t seem like a bad idea to negotiate a lower fee for him.
The front office seems to be doing exactly that, although so far without success. According to a report from Tuttosport (h/t Football Italia) Juve have offered Atletico Madrid €20 million, a bid that has been rejected. However, there is perhaps still room to negotiate, as the report says that Morata could still end up a Juventus player next season. The club is hopeful they may be willing to eventually lower their price given the absence of a role for him in Diego Simeone’s plans.
The report also comes on the heels of the announcement that Juve and Atleti will play a friendly this summer in Tel Aviv, Israel. It’s also noteworthy that Dusan Vlahovic has removed the “DV7” branding—which always seemed like a bit of an unnecessary shot from the front office at a certain former Juve player—from his social media, replacing it with simply “DV,” a potential sign that he could go back to the No. 9 shirt that he wore when he was at Fiorentina, indicating that Morata will either be elsewhere or, if he stays, will cede the No. 9 to his teammate and wear another number. Coincidentally, Morata usually wears No. 7 when he plays for Spain, so if he stays it could potentially be a swap.
There is going to be a lot of upheaval going on in Juve’s front line this year. Having Morata back would curb the turnover just a little bit, and it would be nice to see him continue to develop the chemistry he and Vlahovic displayed as the season progressed. Playing as a supporting character as opposed to being The Man will suit him, and he’d also be one of the few players on the roster with true institutional knowledge of the club, to say nothing of the fact that he freaking loves it here. If the price is right, keeping him would probably be a good thing.