Name: Alvaro Morata
Born: Oct. 23, 1992, in Madrid, Spain
Pro club: Juventus
Why is he in the news?
While there are bigger names on the Juventus roster, Morata has been a big part of the club reaching the UEFA Champions League final—he’s scored four goals through 11 tournament games, second on the team to only Carlos Tevez, who has seven in 12. He also scored the lone Juve goal in the second leg of the team’s semifinal matchup with Real Madrid, to preserve a 3–2 aggregate win and push his former team out of the tournament:
And though the biggest game of the current European season is still to come, Morata has also been talked up in regards to where he’ll be playing next year. Morata’s contract gives him the right to return to Real Madrid, but Juventus are apparently hoping to keep him by matching the money on offer from his old club. That would be roughly £2.9 million per.
He’s special because
He’s young (23 years old), but plays with maturity and intelligence. He’s tall (six-foot-three), but has unusually quick feet for his size. He’s excellent in the air, but… actually, there’s no “but” here. He’s just good in the air:
Signed by Real Madrid in 2008, Morata rose through the ranks and became a fan favourite even while playing on the youth team, with the Estadio Bernabeu faithful often calling for him to replace the likes of Karim Benzema on the top club. He became a regular on the main squad—though not a consistent starter—in 2013–14, and he helped the club to the 2014 Champions League title.
Real transferred Morata to Juventus in the off-season, and the newcomer steadily earned more starts as the year went on. He’s now won Man of the Match in two of Juve’s last four matches (on top of the second-leg goal in Madrid, he also scored in the 2–1 win in the first leg in Turin), picking the absolute perfect time to take his game to another level.
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Morata played over 30 matches for Spain’s U17, U18, U19 and U21 squads, scoring a total of 29 goals, and debuted for the senior national team in a 3–0 UEFA European Championships qualifier win over Belarus this past November. He also scored the lone Spanish goal in a Euro qualifier win over Ukraine in March:
His most famous moment
Scoring the back-breaking goal to knock his former team out of the Champions League. (Obviously.) It was made perhaps even more famous by his subdued reaction—in fact, he didn’t celebrate either of his goals against Real Madrid.
Here’s an interesting fact
The last time Juventus won the Champions League title, in August 1996, Morata was three. Also, he takes a headbutt like a champ:
He said it
“It was an important goal (the one versus Real Madrid in the second leg of the Champions League semifinal), but I’ve got a bittersweet feeling. I want to say thanks to the Madrid fans, because they’ve always treated me well. If only I could have scored against another team, but life’s like that. My feelings will be different against Barcelona. They are a great team but we are as well.”
What they’re saying about him
“He’s the future of the Spain side.” — Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla