New arrivals key to Juve's ambitions
As the dust settles after a dramatic week at Juventus, the club is attempting to move on with its project, finalising deals to ensure the winning cycle continues, even if it is headed by Max Allegri.
Over the weekend, Juventus welcomed Alvaro Morata and officially presented him to the public. His arrival hit a nerve with certain fans. Why sell off Bianconeri youth to bring in Spanish talent?
The reality is, Antonio Conte genuinely believed (before his departure) that Morata has more to offer than Ciro Immobile, and while he may not boast the same mental fortitude, he is blessed with better technique.
Representing Spain in the European Under-12 Championship in Israel, Morata finished as top scorer of the tournament despite not being the coach's first-choice striker; in fact, he was third choice.
"I went as the third striker and finished as top scorer, thankfully," explained the player in an interview. The sheer will to succeed coupled with excellent ability saw him exploit every opportunity he was given to demonstrate his strength and help lead Spain to the trophy.
In October 2013, after his goal against Levante, AS asked their readers whether they felt Morata had earned the right to start ahead of Karim Benzema. Ninety-two percent voted yes. Telecinco conducted their own survey. Again, 87 percent voted yes. Physical, determined, and talented, why is Morata so highly rated by so many, and especially the Juve contingent?
Measuring 6-foot-3, the Spaniard is tall and physical yet blessed with quick feet. He's not only a boy with a spectacular eye for goal but a player who loves to pick out a key pass and help his teammates score.
For someone who grew in height at an exceptional rate and struggled to come to terms with his quickly changing body, Morata is now enjoying the benefits of all his physique has to offer, finding ways to demonstrate its strength as opposed to viewing it as a hindrance to his agility.
A keen dribbler, good with both his feet, the Spaniard may be a striker, but he is also versatile --- capable of playing all along the front line. Agile, physical and powerful, he is often precise with his shots and loves to assist, but most importantly, he understands that he is still has much to learn and accepts his role in the squad.
Of course, Morata is far from perfect and must develop further before Juventus can truly enjoy the full extent of his talents. The reason mental fortitude was mentioned above is because last season, he suffered.
While the likes of Jese, Real Madrid's other young promoted talent, played his own game whether that included scoring a goal or not, Morata at times attempted to do too much, resulting in frustration. His eagerness to please lets him down often, and he must learn that if he simply relaxes and does what he has been told, the goals will come, as will the affection of his teammates.
Mundo Deportivo was quick to point out that the former Real Madrid player is hardly the greatest we have ever seen, noting the fact that neither Carlo Ancelotti nor Jose Mourinho before him thought him worthy of their attention. Poking fun at the glowing description of the player on the official Juventus website, the Spanish paper noted that the Italians seem to think Van Basten has arrived.
Mundo Deportivo is, of course, the paper that also described Raphael Varane's transfer to Real Madrid as "a signing to satisfy Zinedine Zidane and make him feel like his opinions count." How they must feel now that the French player has become one of the best young centre-backs in the world. The club listen to Zidane for a reason.
Back to the topic at hand: Mundo Deportivo are wrong, at least about one thing. Both Ancelotti and Mourinho are fans of the youngster; in fact, the Portuguese made sure the world recognised that he helped put the Spaniard's potential on the map.
"The one who gave him his debut? That was me. The one who made sure he was part of the preseason tour three years running? That was me," said Mourinho. "The one that made sure he did not leave the club? That was me. The one who told the club they should give him a first-team contract? That was also me."
Ancelotti was asked how he would feel if Morata were to leave over Christmas "If a team comes to get him, the answer is clear: Morata stays." Sadly for the Italian, there's little he can do about the competition, and the young striker has to leave in order to get more minutes and refine his talent.
Needless to say, Morata could be spectacular or perhaps someone who will never quite live up to his potential but he, alongside the likes of Paul Pogba and Kingsley Coman, represent the youth and future of Juve.
However, experience at highest level in European football has also proved to be a problem for a squad that has proved exceptional in domestic challenges but rather ordinary abroad. Thus it's important that Juve provide a good balance, and the signing of Patrice Evra is management's attempt to introduce much-needed experience into the team, as well as to offer a good alternative at left back.
A leader and a respected talent, he may not be the phenomenon the fans have demanded, but he represents a good market opportunity that has been exploited well.
Mina Rzouki covers Juventus and the Italian national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Minarzouki.