The clamour earlier in the season from the Real Madrid support to see Alvaro Morata start ahead of Karim Benzema should be an indication of the striker’s talent.
As of now, the Spain U21 international is the only other option Carlo Ancelotti has at centre-forward, unless, in a desperate situation, he deploys Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale or Jese Rodriguez in that position. So it seems a little out there that Real Madrid would even entertain a loan for Morata in January.
Arsenal, however, do need reinforcements. Much in the same way as Madrid, the Gunners only have senior centre-forward in Olivier Giroud, if you discount Lukas Podolski. The trust placed in the Frenchman this season has seen him flourish, but no amount of confidence can fully recuperate a tired body when the fixtures come thick and fast.
Morata is seen by some as the perfect answer to this short-term problem. Arsenal need another senior striker but they’re unlikely to get exactly what they want in January. Not only that, but following a World Cup and the numerous reshuffling of squads over the summer, there is likely to be a good handful of high-class centre-forwards available. Think Mario Mandzukic as one of those likely to be on the market.
The thing about Morata and the talk about a January loan is that some of the excitement, which is justified, doesn’t quite acknowledge that it’s for the short term. Or at least that’s the way it appears.
Morata is an exceptionally talented footballer who is destined for big things in his career. There is a hunger to see him at Real Madrid. Once again, Real Madrid. He’s only 21 and won’t have a sniff at a place in Vicente Del Bosque’s side for the World Cup in the summer, and yet people can see the quality in him. On almost every occasion this season where he’s made a cameo appearance, he’s made an impact. At last summer’s U21 European Championship, he finished as tournament top scorer. He only started one game.
But Arsenal won’t see the end result. They’ll play a small hand in his development and then that’s it. I simply won’t entertain the idea of Arsenal having an option to buy him if a loan deal takes place; Florentino Perez will be persuaded and even urged to retain the youngster, such is the desire from the support to see more homegrown players in the team.
And then you have to ask how much of an impact Morata will have. For all his talent, let’s not forget that he’s still a young player in his first season as a regular in the Real Madrid squad. Moving to the Premier League, where even the best have trouble adapting, and then being asked to help play a key role in a title race is too much for a player of such limited experience.
He’s been very good when turning out for Madrid this season, but let’s not forget that this is a team who have Cristiano Ronaldo and a myriad of other stars. At the moment, they’re trouncing opponents. Benzema is back in form, Bale has found his rhythm and the return of Xabi Alonso has helped the team to move through the gears with much greater fluidity.
And that’s not to take anything away from how good Arsenal are at present, but at Madrid, there is no pressure on Morata. As mentioned, worst case scenario, Ronaldo plays at centre-forward. One of the best players in the world playing in a position that he’s quite accustomed. Arsenal simply don’t have that luxury.
If it was a case that Arsenal were permanently signing Morata, I could be a little more supportive of the idea. After all, Lukas Podolski and Theo Walcott, while offering different qualities to Giroud, are also options. Bringing in Morata with the view to him having a long-term impact at the club is no problem. But that’s not happening.
When Manchester United needed a boost in their title bid in 2007, they brought in Henrik Larsson on a short-term deal. It suited everyone. Larsson was a high-quality veteran of the game who could be trusted to put the ball in the net. He’s done the lot. No pressure.
If Arsenal can’t get their first-choice targets in January, then a deal similar to that of United’s signing of Larsson should be pursued.
Despite all of Morata’s talent, it just doesn’t make a great deal of sense for either Arsenal or Real Madrid.