Morata leaves Real Madrid for second time, joins Chelsea


Real Madrid's Alvaro Morata celebrates scoring his goal against Granada. (Daniel Tejedor/AP)

LONDON — Alvaro Morata joined Chelsea from Real Madrid on Friday and is set to take over from Diego Costa as the main striker for the English champion.

Chelsea announced the signing of the Spain international without giving a fee. He signed for five years.

Costa was one of Chelsea’s key players in its run to the Premier League title last season. But he said last month that he was told by coach Antonio Conte he wasn’t wanted for the coming season.

It is the second time Morata has left Madrid.

With Karim Benzema established as its first-choice striker, Madrid sold Morata to Juventus in 2014 for 20 million euros. After he scored twice in the 2015 Champions League semifinals to help Juventus eliminate Madrid, president Florentino Perez waited only one more year to pay 30 million euros to bring him home.

Morata quickly became a crowd favourite in the Santiago Bernabeu but coach Zinedine Zidane’s preference for Benzema meant he never got the minutes he expected after returning.

Still, Morata made the most of his playing time and proved a natural scorer, nabbing opportunistic goals and showing he is a danger in the final minutes to swing results.

Morata scored 20 goals in all competitions for Madrid last season, despite playing limited minutes. He made just 14 starts in the Spanish league and one in the Champions League, competitions Madrid won in a rare double.

For Spain, he has nine goals in 20 appearances. He struck three times in four matches at last year’s European Championship, where defending champion Spain was ousted in the round-of-16 by Italy.

"Alvaro has proven class at the highest level," Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo said


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