Morata set to leave Chelsea for Atlético Madrid
Chelsea confident of securing Gonzalo Higuaín on loan from Juventus this week
Alvaro Morata was a club record signing when he joined from Real Madrid for a little under £60 million (€68 million) in the summer of 2017. Photograph: Getty Images
Álvaro Morata’s underwhelming 18-month stint with Chelsea appears to be drawing to a close with the Spain forward set to move to Atlético Madrid on an initial loan deal with an option to make the transfer permanent for £48.5 million (€55 million) at the end of the season.
Morata was a club record signing when he joined from Real Madrid for a little under £60 million (€68 million) in the summer of 2017 but, despite a bright start to his career at Stamford Bridge, form and confidence have drained significantly over the last year.
There were 15 goals in all competitions over his first campaign in England - albeit only three in 23 games from St Stephen’s Day - and this season has yielded five in the top flight. But the 26-year-old has failed to convince Maurizio Sarri of his suitability for the central striking position in his system, with the player himself pining for a return to Spain.
The Italian head coach has preferred to use Eden Hazard as a false number nine to either Morata or Olivier Giroud in recent weeks and, with Chelsea confident of securing Gonzalo Higuaín on loan from Juventus this week, the Spaniard’s departure has been sanctioned.
Morata may have become closely associated with Real Madrid, but he had begun his career in the youth system at Atlético. His family are understood to have flown back to the Spanish capital over the weekend, with the striker expected to follow in the next few days.
An agreement was struck between Chelsea and Juve for Higuaín late last week with the move currently waiting for Milan, with whom the Argentinean striker has spent the first six months of the campaign, to sign Genoa’s Krzysztof Piatek as a replacement.
The Pole is costing around £35 million with confirmation of that move expected on Tuesday. Chelsea may be obliged to make Higuaín’s move permanent depending upon whether goal and achievement clauses written into his £170,000-a-week deal are triggered.
Another striker under contract at the club, the Belgium international Michy Batshuayi, remains in limbo as he awaits clearance to join Monaco for the second half of the season. The forward had a season-long stint at Valencia cancelled earlier this month and, having attracted tentative interest from Crystal Palace, has made clear his desire to work with Thierry Henry at the Ligue 1 club. However, Chelsea would prefer to sanction a sale for around £40 million rather than another temporary switch and the French club are apparently now exploring the possibility of taking Napoli’s Carlos Vinicius on loan.