Why do Barcelona want Alvaro Morata? Xavi has seen something in the striker that he wants at the Nou Camp – a six-yard box finisher, a forward who can press and a chance to reprise his Spain partnership with Ferran Torres
- Alvaro Morata could be set for a January move to Barcelona from Juventus
- It would be a surprise move on the surface, but their is logic to Xavi’s thinking
- Morata could help turn dominance to wins and knows how to press opponents
A recent social media poll asking Barcelona fans who they would rather be the club’s number nine: Alvaro Morata or Luuk de Jong was mainly answered with the word ‘neither’.
But despite the lack of enthusiasm for his arrival, such are Barcelona’s current financial restrictions, that Xavi is keen on adding the Spain international to his attacking options.
Juventus might not want to keep Morata, and Atletico Madrid might not want to take him back but the striker, who also came up short at Chelsea and Real Madrid, looks like moving to the Camp Nou.
Alvaro Morata could be in line for shock move from Juventus to Barcelona in Janaury
Despite eyebrows being raised, there is a clear line of thinking in Xavi’s decision making
For one, Morata could reprise his partnership with Spain alongside Ferran Torres (centre)
There are two reasons why: firstly it’s a market maneuver that Barcelona can manage from within their financial straightjacket, and secondly Xavi believes he has seen enough of what Morata does for Luis Enrique in the Spain team to believe that he can be an integral part of his new Barca.
Juventus had agreed to buy Morata at the end of a two-year loan deal for 55m euros. They have already paid 15m for the two loan years so they owe 40m. But Atletico Madrid owe 40m to Barcelona for Antoine Griezmann so it will be as if Barca are cancelling Atletico’s debt to them, so that they cancel their debt with Juventus so that Juventus cancel theirs with Barcelona – everyone happy.
When Barcelona decided to move Griezmann on last summer they always wanted to make it part of another deal to boost their own squad and while it’s debatable who the better player might be, it’s clear Morata is more the No 9 Barcelona want than Griezmann is.
Xavi wants a six-yard box finisher; someone who will get on the end of crosses and turn Barcelona’s domination into goals. In too many games they are overwhelming rivals for 70 minutes but a failure to score more than one or two goals leaves them hanging on in the final stages of matches as they were again on Sunday against Mallorca.
Xavi also likes something else about Morata. The player scores very highly in sprints to close down opposing defenders. For the high press that the new Barcelona coach demands he can do the job more effectively than De Jong who will still leave the club despite his excellent first half on Sunday, and Memphis Depay who will contest one of the wide forward berths once he is fit again.
Financially, the deal makes sense for Juventus, parent club Atletico Madrid and Barcelona
Morata has struggled at a number of clubs in the past – he flopped with Chelsea in England
But the prospect of him also lining up alongside Ansu Fati is an encouraging one for Barca
Morata also has the intelligent to make the right movements and he has the understanding forged in the Spain team with Ferran Torres that will help his adaptation at Barcelona.
In fact the prospect of Spain’s front three and Barcelona’s front three being one in the same (Ansu Fati, Morata, Ferran Torres) is a prospect that delights Xavi almost as much as it does Luis Enrique.
And Morata playing through the middle means Ousmane Dembele can ride off into the sunset of a fat signing-on bonus somewhere else while Ferran Torres plays in, what he admitted at his presentation, is his preferred position of right wing.
None of that changes the fact that the idea of Morata arriving leaves Barcelona fans a little cold but it was notable that in that presentation on Monday the club’s president Joan Laporta said that Morata’s arrival will not end the club’s interest in Erling Haaland.
‘Everything is possible,’ he said. ‘Barca are still a reference in world football and the best players still contemplate joining us.’ Almost in the same breath it was also admitted that Barcelona had signed Torres without being sure whether or not they would actually be able to register him with La Liga.
Joan Laporta has suggested Barcelona will soon be a major force in the transfer market again
But as it stands, Barca are unsure if they can register Ferran Torres due to their wage bill
The club still need to register Dani Alves, although that appears imminent. Alves returning aged 38 is the reality for the club right now.
For some time now the promises at Barcelona have been substantially bigger than what is actually revealed when the curtain is pulled back.
Laporta pretty much promised that Lionel Messi was staying in the summer. On Sunday night with Messi long gone, the team kicked off with two B-team players and Luuk de Jong in attack.
That’s why Morata’s arrival is not being dismissed by Xavi who sees a team gradually forming from the ashes of what Laporta called in his New Year’s message to supporters: ‘the degradation of a glorious era’.