With Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United ready to spend big in summer transfer window this season, buying a top striker is the utmost priority for the Portuguese manager. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s injury dented his future prospect at the club, with the Red Devils officially releasing him. Atletico Madrid’s transfer ban washed away United’s best chance of signing their primary target Antoine Griezmann. Recent rumours link Real Madrid’s frustrated striker Alvaro Morata with the club. With Morata’s wife Alice Campello recently following Manchester United on Instagram, social media is abuzz the transfer may be announced sooner than expected.
But the question remains: Is the 24-year old Spaniard the right the right fit for United?
On paper, Morata appears to be the ideal candidate for the club – a 6 ft 2 in striker, with physical capabilities inside the box, who can hold the ball and make others play inside the six-yard box. His dominating presence inside the box and his heading ability (scored 6 goals out of 20 from headers last season) makes him a target for set-pieces and crosses inside the penalty box.
A side which found itself often isolated when going forward last season, missing out on several goal-scoring opportunities, Morata looks like the ideal candidate. His scoring rate in 2016-17 season was just second to Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, with him finding the net once in every 89 minutes. If he continues in the same form this season, it certainly may improve United’s goal scoring record this season.
Morata’s inability to link up with Marcelo, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale in the front, saw the Spaniard being a second choice to an insipid Karim Benzema. In spite of largely playing the role of a “super-sub” to Benzema, Morata was the second highest goal scorer for Real Madrid last season with 20 goals in his kitty.
The Spaniard also played a key role whenever manager Zinedine Zidane fielded his infamous “B-side”, connecting well with Marco Asensio, Isco and Lucas Vasquez and chipping in with goals. Morata’s uncanny tendency to score goals in the final few minutes is another big positive that makes him fit right along with Manchester United, who ruled English football as “Comeback Kings” under Sir Alex Ferguson era.
Fans, critics and football pundits have remained doubtful about Morata, with many believing Mourinho’s side should go for a more ‘tested’ player at Premiere League level like Everton’ Romelu Lukaku. Morata’s two-years at Juventus, after being let go by Madrid in 2014, saw him scoring only 27 goals in 93 appearances, a statistic that is not likely to impress many. His replacement at Juventus, Gonzalo Higuain, last season found the net 32 times in all games. But his brace at Champions League 2015 against Real Madrid, saw Juventus into the finals of the European tournament against Barcelona, where he was the sole scorer for The Old Lady. Morata’s habit of scoring goals in the most crucial situations saw him being brought back to Real Madrid in 2016.
Another factor which works for the Spanish striker is his familiarity with Mourinho’s scheme-of-things. With Premiere League trophy in his mind, the two-time Champions League winning manager, who gave Morata his start at Real Madrid senior side in 2014, is going with things he knows best. Already packing a well-rounded defender Victor Lindelof at his side, Mourinho looks set to re-unite with Nemanja Matic at Old Trafford. Morata seems like the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle. An added signing of left-winger Ivan Perisic from Inter will further boost Mourinho’s tried-and-tested formula of a solid defensive mid-field balanced by a tightly-knit attacking front.